Strasbourg, France-based Faust Pharmaceuticals aims to identify and develop small molecule drug candidates that can modulate the level of neurotransmitters in the brain to treat neurodegenerative disorders including Parkinson's Disease and Alzheimer's Disease.
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It has always been popular to start companies around families and subfamilies of targets, banking on the similarity among the receptors to speed drug discovery. But the idea largely hasn't panned out, in part because of the new target risk--sometimes they're not pharmaceutically relevant and sometimes they resist the available chemistries. That's why G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) have been so important: they're clearly relevant (many, perhaps most, blockbusters come from this class of receptor) and their unique structure makes them both relatively easy to hit with ligands and likely to do something when hit. But the same structural advantages turn into scientific disadvantages for researchers: they resist screening and other techniques of modern drug discovery. We explore some of the newest approaches to mining this rich vein of opportunity.
Norak's founders think that beta-arrestin's movement from within the body of the cell to the membrane-bound receptor is a specific marker of GPCR receptor activation-and their method for watching it all happen in glowing green is the basis of the company's Transfluor technology.
Sweden's NeuroNova has identified a convenient and accessible source of neural stem cells in the ependymal layer of the brain. The company hopes to use such cells for transplantation therapy in Parkinson's disease and as a platform for drug discovery.