Sinntaxis bags option on ex-AstraZeneca mGluR5 antagonist

AstraZeneca moved AZD2066 into three phase 2 trials almost a decade ago. (Håkan Dahlström/CC BY 2.0)

Sinntaxis has secured an option on an ex-AstraZeneca drug. AstraZeneca dropped mGluR5 antagonist AZD2066 after getting a look at midphase data, but Sinntaxis thinks it can rehabilitate the molecule as a treatment for stroke patients.

Sweden’s Sinntaxis began operating last year to build on Lund University research linking mGluR5 to improved brain function in preclinical models. The findings suggested activation of mGluR5 worsens the recovery of brain functions after stroke and thereby opened the door to the first drug treatment for the millions of patients who suffer long-term harm as a result of cerebrovascular accident. 

“Our experimental research shows that substances with the same mechanism of action as AZD2066, modulation of the mGluR5 receptor, can help recover lost brain functions by stimulating the healthy parts of the damaged brain. This is the still the case when treatment starts as late as a week after the stroke,” Tadeusz Wieloch, the founder of Sinntaxis, said in a statement.

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Sinntaxis’ early-stage research used other mGluR5 modulators. But, seeing a chance to accelerate its R&D program, the biotech has landed an option on an AstraZeneca drug that has already been tested in hundreds of people. 

AstraZeneca moved AZD2066 into three phase 2 trials almost a decade ago. The first trial, in patients with painful diabetic neuropathy, wrapped up in 2009. In 2010, AstraZeneca terminated the other two phase 2 trials, which tested AZD2066 in patients with major depressive disorder and neuropathic pain.

The drug underwhelmed. In the completed diabetic neuropathy trial, the cohort that received the mGluR5 antagonist experienced a 2.33 reduction on a 10-point pain intensity scale. The placebo arm reported a 2.52 reduction. 

Clinical development of AZD2066 stopped and in 2013 AstraZeneca transferred the asset to Acturum as part of its retreat from internal neuroscience research and exit of a Swedish R&D site. Acturum has now granted Sinntaxis an option to exclusively license the asset for use in the treatment of stroke patients.