They say two heads are better than one and this is certainly true when two pharmaceutical companies join forces to combat an array of deadly diseases. Domain Therapeutics and Boehringer Ingelheim have signed a collaboration and licensing agreement to discover G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) targeting drugs in central nervous system (CNS), oncology and immuno-oncology.
“We are excited to initiate the collaboration with Domain Therapeutics, a leading player in the GPCR space. This collaboration helps us to bolster our CNS research efforts,” said Dr. Bernd Sommer, Global Head, CNS Diseases Research of Boehringer Ingelheim. “We have a valuable partner with complementary expertise and key technologies that allow us to accelerate research and development in this area of great unmet medical need.”
GPCRs are ubiquitous among eukaryotes and are key messengers in signalling cascades. Their abundance and involvement in numerous functions make them ideal targets for different therapeutic applications. Drugs targeting GPCRs make up nearly 40 percent of all pharmaceutical treatments on the market, yet this only represents a fraction of all known GPCRs.
GPCRs play a key role in the CNS, from development to neurotransmission. For example, there is growing interest in metabotropic glutamatergic receptor antagonists, a class of GPCRs, for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Preclinical studies suggest pharmacological blocking of these GPCRs can result in reduced neurodegeneration and dendritic spine loss. GPCRs are also prevalent in cancer, and are an active area of investigation.
Domain Therapeutics addresses unmet needs in GPCR drug discovery. Their R&D program leverages two unique platforms: DTect-All and BioSens-All. Using a library curated by Professor Marcel Hibert and Dr. Jean-Luc Galzi, DTect-All allows researchers to identify the ligands that correspond to a GPCR of interest. The pathways and functions of GPCRs identified from DTect-All can then be determined using BioSens-All, a platform developed by a team of Canadian researchers. Together with Boehringer Ingelheim’s dominance in the clinical trial space, the collaboration is sure to foster exciting research in years to come.
“With its focus on emerging science and breakthrough medicines, we are enthusiastic to be working with Boehringer Ingelheim,” said Pascal Neuville, CEO of Domain Therapeutics. “We believe that our approach and technologies will allow for the identification of new drug candidates against these challenging targets, and, coupled with Boehringer Ingelheim’s strength and expertise, their rapid advancement into the clinic.”
Domain Therapeutics previously partnered with Prexton Therapeutics to develop and test Foliglurax (metabotropic glutamate receptor 4-positive allosteric modulation [mGluR4-PAM]), which is used to treat Parkinson’s disease (PD). Currently, Prexton is conducting a Phase II clinical trial to evaluate the safety, tolerability and efficacy of Foliglurax in patients with PD on levodopa (L-DOPA).
With many receptors being labeled as so-called “orphan GPCRs” with unknown ligands, a whole field of potential therapeutic targets are just waiting to be discovered. The collaboration between Domain Therapeutics and Boehringer Ingelheim will focus on exploring these orphan GPCRs, in hopes of identifying novel treatment approaches for a variety of neuropsychiatric diseases.