Muna Therapeutics gets $4.9M grant for Parkinson’s disease research

October 11, 2022 - 3 minutes
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Muna Therapeutics has been awarded a $4.9 million grant from The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF).

The grant will be used to support ongoing preclinical research and development of novel, brain-exposed, small molecule potassium channel type 1.3 (Kv1.3) blockers to abrogate neuroinflammation driven by disease-associated microglia and enhance neuroprotection as a disease-modifying therapy for patients with Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder associated with motor symptoms (slow movement, tremor, rigidity, walking and imbalance) and a wide variety of non-motor complications (cognitive impairment, mental health disorders, sleep disorders, pain and other sensory disturbances). Motor impairments, such as dyskinesias (involuntary movements) and dystonias (painful involuntary muscle contractions) contribute to limitations in speech, mobility and restrictions in many life areas. More than 10 million people worldwide are estimated to be living with Parkinson’s, with no current cure.

Muna is focused on addressing the unmet medical need experienced by Parkinson’s patients around the world with its transformative, therapeutic all-in-human target discovery and validation platform, which aims to preserve brain function and enhance resilience to neurodegenerative diseases.

‘Significant funding’

“We are very pleased to receive this significant funding from The Michael J. Fox Foundation to fund this promising research which has the potential to significantly improve the lives of people with Parkinson’s. Kv1.3 plays an important role in creating and maintaining neuroinflammation in Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases. Reducing neuroinflammation by blocking Kv1.3 has tremendous potential to slow or prevent neurodegeneration and disease progression,” said Rita Balice-Gordon, chief executive officer of Muna Therapeutics.

“The studies will support ongoing medicinal chemistry and structural biology efforts as well as extend understanding of the mechanism of Kv1.3 in microglial activation and the role of Kv1.3 blockade, in vitro in human cells and in vivo in humanized mouse models, to achieve the normalization of disease-associated microglial phenotypes, which will enhance neuroprotection,” said Niels Plath, chief scientific officer of Muna Therapeutics.

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“Fostering a robust and healthy pipeline of therapies to improve the lives of people with Parkinson’s is core to MJFF’s mission. We are proud to support the work of researchers at Muna Therapeutics investigating a potential disease modifying therapy for people with Parkinson’s,” said Brian Fiske, co-chief scientific officer, MJFF.

The grant from MJFF will support work at Muna Therapeutics and in collaboration with Bart De Strooper at VIB/KU Leuven, a scientific co-founder of Muna, for two years.

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