VistaGen Therapeutics, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company developing drugs for treating neurological disorders and diabetes, announced today positive preclinical data supporting expanded applications of AV-101, the Company’s first in-class prodrug that regulates critical NMDA receptors in the brain. The studies, which were performed in collaboration with Dr. Sophie Erhardt, Associate Professor of Pharmacology at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, suggest that VistaGen’s AV-101 may have therapeutic potential for treating the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and schizophrenia.
“These studies suggest that AV-101 can both stimulate the firing of dopaminergic neurons, the neurons that die in Parkinson’s disease, and “reveal” or activate dopaminergic neurons. We have not seen this type of dual activity in any other drug,” said Dr. Erhardt. “In addition, there is increasing evidence that an imbalance in the levels of kynurenic acid, a natural neuromodulator in the brain, is associated with schizophrenia. AV-101, as a prodrug analogue of kynurenic acid, has allowed us to identify one of the brain pathways most likely disturbed in schizophrenia,” Dr. Erhardt continued.
“These striking results are very encouraging and now offer the possibility of additional therapeutic applications, such as Parkinson’s, for AV-101. If these results are repeated when we study the specific region of the brain that is damaged in Parkinson’s disease, we can then expand our AV-101 IND application to the FDA to cover additional indications,” said H. Ralph Snodgrass, Ph.D., VistaGen’s President and Chief Executive Officer.
It is estimated that close to 4 million people worldwide suffer from Parkinson’s disease with an estimated $2 billion spent on drug therapy annually, with the market growing at about 2% per year worldwide.