Maine Patent of the Month – August 2022
Neurodegenerative disorders encompass a wide range of conditions that result from progressive damage to cells and nervous system connections. This damage leads to loss of mobility, coordination, strength, and cognition. Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease are the two most well known neurodegenerative disorders, but glaucoma is one of the most common. In any of these disorders, axon injury is a common and early event contributing to the loss of viable nerve cells. Since axon degeneration precedes neural loss, treatment at this early stage could be a potential solution for delaying or even preventing the full onset of a neurodegenerative disease.
Neurodegeneration in glaucoma presents as the irreversible loss of eyesight which impacts over 70 million people worldwide. High intraocular pressure (IO) drives neuronal vulnerability. This vulnerability, combined with age, causes the initiation of glaucoma although the mechanism is still unclear.
The Jackson Laboratory has committed themselves to uncovering these mechanisms, deciphering the upstream molecular signals that trigger the initial neurodegenerative processes in glaucoma. As a result of this mission, the company has recently patented their treatment and prevention of ocular neurodegenerative disorders.
Their treatment solution uses nicotinamide (NAM) pharmaceutical compositions. The compound is used as a neuroprotective medicament via gene therapy. The company used state-of-the-art molecular technology on retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) to discover that mitochondrial abnormalities are an early driver of neuronal dysfunction. In preclinical mouse trials using mice models, the company administered NAD with therapeutic level doses to the retina and found a reduction in the onset of ocular neurodegeneration as compared to the control counterparts. After these studies, The Jackson Laboratory believes there may be potential for use in treating other neurodegenerative conditions as well.
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