Cambridge, Lund University spinout Wren pens Eisai neuro research pact

Digital X-ray brain on blue background neurons
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U.K.-based alpha-synuclein biotech Wren Therapeutics will partner with Japanese pharma Eisai to seek out new ways of targeting neuro disorders.

Wren, which was spun out of both Cambridge University in the U.K. and Lund University in Sweden, works on a network kinetics drug discovery platform that quantifies the effects of small molecules on the protein misfolding and aggregation pathway that causes neurodegenerative diseases.

Specifically, Wren’s approach seeks to selectively control the aggregation process of alpha-synuclein, which is associated with the onset and progression of these diseases. The pact with Eisai will include Parkinson’s disease and dementia with Lewy bodies and will tap Wren’s platform. The financials of the deal were not made public.

“We are delighted to have formed this collaboration with Eisai, a company with a distinguished track record and company-wide commitment to providing innovative treatments for patients suffering from neurodegenerative diseases,” said Samuel Cohen, Ph.D., CEO of Wren.

“We believe that by combining our unique, predictive and quantitatively driven platform with Eisai’s deep expertise in neurology, we can together advance highly differentiated small molecules targeting α-synuclein for the treatment of debilitating protein misfolding disorders such as Parkinson’s disease.”

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“Synucleinopathies such as dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinson’s disease represent a significant unmet medical need due to the lack of any effective disease-modifying treatments,” added Teiji Kimura, Ph.D., vice president and chief discovery officer of Eisai Neurology.

Last summer, Wren raised £18 million ($23 million) in a series A round to advance its internal research to treat protein-misfolding diseases, which include Alzheimer’s.

This is an area Eisai has also been plugging away at for years now, although, as with every other biopharma for nearly 20 years, success has been elusive.

“The accumulation of α-synuclein oligomers with protein misfolding is an important hallmark of these diseases. The Wren team, with its world-renowned founding scientists, is pioneering a new and fundamentally different approach to addressing protein misfolding diseases. By integrating capabilities across both companies we expect this exciting collaboration to be uniquely successful in identifying novel disease-modifying therapeutics for patients suffering from dementia with Lewy bodies, Parkinson’s disease and related disorders," Kimura said.