Mount Sinai, Neurotrope partner to develop bryostatins for rare metabolic disease

A large Bugula neritina colony, from which bryostatins are produced--Courtesy of California Academy of Sciences

Startup Neurotrope Bioscience has signed on to its second big academic collaboration since the start of the year. Its first was with Stanford University back in May; now it's teaming up with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City to further develop its bryostatins for the treatment of Niemann-Pick disease type C (NPC), a rare disease that mostly affects children.

Classified by the FDA as an orphan disease, NPC is a type of inherited metabolic disorder known as a lysosomal storage disease. There is no cure for NPC, which causes progressive neurological problems that often result in death in affected children.

The company's Bryostatin-1 is a natural product derived from a marine microorganism called Bugula neritina, obtained by isolating it from biomass harvested from the ocean. Neurotrope is investigating the compound in a range of difficult-to-treat neurological and neurodegenerative diseases. But analogs of the compound--called bryologs--are also being studied as potential anticancer drugs and as memory-enhancing agents in other laboratories.

The license will provide the Plantation, FL-based drug developer with a 7-year period of U.S. marketing exclusivity if a drug is produced from the collaboration. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

This is Neurotrope's third academic partnership to date. Last year, the company inked a deal with the Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute at West Virginia University.

The license also covers other diseases and disorders relying on activation of PKC epsilon, an enzyme that plays a role in the health of certain cells that has been connected to NPC.

- read the press release