Rodin to launch trial of new imaging agent to visualize synapses in the brain

Martinostat imaging of the human brain
The study will help support Rodin's upcoming phase 1b trial of a new therapeutic compound that is designed to strengthen and increase the number of synapses in patient with neurologic diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. (Massachusetts General Hospital)

Rodin Therapeutics is launching a trial of an imaging agent that can measure synaptic density in a living human brain.

The company said the study will help support its upcoming phase 1b trial of a new therapeutic compound that is designed to strengthen and increase the number of synapses in patients with neurologic diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

The neuroimaging trial will use radioligand, which binds [11C]UCB-J to SV2A, a protein that is expressed in synapses. Both healthy subjects and patients with Alzheimer’s disease taking part in the study will undergo brain PET scans after being administered the imaging agent.

Your Daily Newsletter — Free

Enjoying this story? Subscribe to FierceBiotech!

Biopharma is a fast-growing world where big ideas come along every day. Our subscribers rely on FierceBiotech as their must-read source for the latest news, analysis and data in the world of biotech and pharma R&D. To read on the go, sign up today to get biotech news and updates delivered right to your inbox!

“Most neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, are associated with deteriorating synapses—but until now, physicians and researchers have not been able to measure synaptic density in a living patient,” J. Michael Ryan, M.D., Rodin’s chief medical officer, said in a statement. “This PET scan should allow us to visualize brain synaptic density in patients and possibly track their responses to therapies over time.”

The study will be conducted at Vrije Universiteit Medical Center in Amsterdam and the University Medical Center Groningen. Neurologists Peter Paul De Deyn, M.D., Ph.D., and Philip Scheltens, M.D., Ph.D., will oversee the trials.

With Alzheimer’s, memory is believed to decline because synapses and neurons become dysfunctional and die. A loss of synapses is considered a strong predictor of dementia in people with the disease.

“This tool has the potential to shape future clinical trials by offering an early signal about whether an investigational drug is driving molecular and structural changes in the brain,” Scheltens said in a statement. “We can then take the next step and assess whether those changes lead to functional and cognitive improvements in patients with neurodegenerative diseases.”