The Tau protein has already been implicated in the onset of Alzheimer’s, with many biotechs on the hunt for a preventative therapy. Now, a University of Aberdeen (UK) associated biotech, TauRX, have drawn 120M for their phase III therapy.

TauRx-Logo-01TauRX is a spin-off biotech from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland (UK) where its clinical trials are being conducted, although its official headquarters are based in Singapore (for tax reasons, perhaps?!). Their Alzheimer’s pipeline has led to the latest generation of their Tau-aggregation inhibitors (TAIs) attracting a massive €120M funding round for its phase III trials.

This figure is staggeringly huge for a clinical trials fundraiser, leading us to question – is this drug really the potential cure for Alzheimer’s the world is waiting for? Or is this simply another example of the biotech spending spree in Neuro-degenerative disease…

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Professor Claude Wischik originally identified Tau-protein tangles as responsible for damage in Alzheimer's (Source: Aberdeen Uni)

Professor Claude Wischik originally identified Tau-protein tangles as responsible for damage in Alzheimer’s (Source: Aberdeen Uni)

Tau-protein was identified as a major causative agent in neurofibrillatory ‘tangles’ by Claude Wischik in 1988,  who’s research lab at Cambridge (UK) later moved to the University of Aberdeen and founded TauRX.

TauRx’s tau aggregation inhibitor (TAI), also called LMTX, is a novel chemical form of methylthioninium (MT). LMTX works by undoing the tangles that cause dementia, thereby slowing and even arresting memory loss.

This drug in 2008 showed a dramatic 81% reduction in disease progression for Alzheimer’s over a 2-year period – a staggering statistic. The latest generation of TauRX TAI (also a methylthioninium compound) is now preparing for phase III and has a much higher bioavailability to their previous candidate, and therefore could be a real breakthrough in the treatment of this neuro-degenerative disease.

Tau aggregation inhibitors

Hyperphosphorylation of Tau proteins cause them to aggregate and cause damage. TauRX’s candidate inhibits this aggregation. Other biotech targets aim to increase Tau clearance or inhibit the kinase responsible. (Source: Nature Reviews Drug Discovery 9, 387-398, 2010. doi:10.1038/nrd2896)

As we’ve mentioned before, it is clear the biotech industry is really starting a neurodegenerative disease research revival – with new Tau-protein candidates springing up from all over the EU. You can read up on various therapies and drug targets (including those for ‘Taupathies’) in our extensive overview here.

The big contender here now though is TauRX, which with the father of Tau-protein tangles on board combined with their shockingly positive phase II results for their TAI candidate (LMTX), could really be something to get excited about…

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