NeuBase Therapeutics, Inc., a biotechnology company developing next-generation antisense oligonucleotide (“ASO”) therapies to address genetic diseases, recently announced positive preclinical data from its pharmacokinetics studies in non-human primates (“NHPs”) and in vitro pharmacodynamics data in patient-derived cell lines. NeuBase believes these data validate the key advantages of the proprietary NeuBase peptide-nucleic acid (“PNA”) antisense oligonucleotide (PATrOL™) platform and support the Company’s decision to advance the development of its Huntington’s disease (“HD”) and myotonic dystrophy type 1 (“DM1”) programs, as well as the potential expansion of its therapeutic pipeline into other indications.
“We believe the PATrOL™ platform has the potential to create drugs that are easy for patients to take at infrequent intervals after they have tested positive for a genetic disease but before symptoms emerge,” said McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Dietrich Stephan, PhD, chief executive officer of NeuBase. “We believe the best way to effectively manage degenerative genetic diseases is to get ahead of the disease process, and we believe that can only be achieved with early diagnosis coupled with well-tolerated, effective, and easily administered therapies.”
Dr. George Church, professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and member of the National Academy of Sciences, stated, “Given the activity and broad biodistribution observed in these studies and the potential for easier target definition, I believe the PATrOL™ technology may have a potent impact on the future of drug development and treatment of genetic diseases.”
Non-Human Primate Pharmacokinetic Study
Quantitative whole-body autoradiography was performed on NHPs. A PATrOL™-enabled compound was radio-labeled, and the resulting material was injected into NHPs at 5 mg/kg via a bolus tail vein injection. The major conclusions from this study include:
- Rapid uptake of compound out of the body’s circulation after systemic intravenous administration, with a half-life in circulation of approximately 1.5 hours;
- Compound penetrates every organ system studied, including the central nervous system and skeletal muscle;
- Compound crosses the blood-brain barrier and into the key deep brain structures, including the caudate, supporting a key capability for the development of the Company’s lead program in HD;
- Delivery of the compound to skeletal muscle, the primary organ system that is affected in DM1;
- Because both HD and DM1 have manifestations outside of the primary affected organ, the broad biodistribution of the compounds may enable a potential whole-body therapeutic solution in both indications.
- Therapeutically relevant doses persist for greater than one week in NHPs after single-dose injection;
- 96% of administered compound remained in vivo after a one-week period (latest timepoint tested);
- Redistribution over one week after administration between organ systems enriches concentrations in key brain regions up to two-fold, including in those deep brain structures most relevant for HD;
- Retention of ~90% of compound concentrations achieved in skeletal muscle over the course of one-week post-single-dose administration; and
- Sustained concentrations in many other key organ systems throughout the body may indicate the potential for durable therapeutic responses and an infrequent dosing cadence.
Patient-Derived Huntington’s Cell Line Pharmacodynamic Studies
Multiple Huntington’s disease candidate compounds were incubated with HD-derived cells and assayed for their toxicity and their ability to selectively knock down mutant huntingtin protein (“mHTT”) expression by engaging with the CAG repeat expansion in the huntingtin (“HTT”) gene transcript. Multi-well plates were seeded with cells and candidates were added to the culture at various concentrations. The major conclusions from this study include:
- Activity in engaging target disease-causing transcripts and knocking-down resultant malfunctioning mHTT protein levels preferentially over normal HTT protein knock-down; and
- Dose limiting toxicities were not observed relative to a control either at or above the doses demonstrating activity in human cells in vitro.
In addition, PATrOL™ enabled compounds were generally well-tolerated in vivo after systemic administration, both after single dose administration in NHPs and multi dose administration in mice for over a month.
Dr. Robert Friedlander, chief medical officer of NeuBase and member of the National Academy of Medicine, stated, “An allele specific approach that can be systemically administered and cross the blood brain barrier would be an ideal drug profile for many untreatable genetic diseases. I believe that NeuBase is moving towards realizing this goal.”
The intersection of the NHP pharmacokinetic data and the in vitro patient-derived pharmacodynamic data provides a roadmap to create a pipeline of therapeutic candidates which can reach target tissues of interest after systemic administration and achieve the desired activity at that dose. NeuBase believes the data from these studies support the advancement of the Company’s HD and DM1 programs into lead optimization and subsequent IND-enabling studies, as well as provide a roadmap for the future expansion of the Company’s therapeutic pipeline into other indications, including oncology.
Dr. Sam Broder, former Director of the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health and member of the National Academy of Sciences, stated, “I believe that the NeuBase strategy of targeting transcripts before they become dangerous mutant proteins has the potential to deliver a dramatic improvement in our collective capabilities to effectively treat a wide range of genetic diseases, including some of the most deadly cancers, by targeting driver mutations and accelerating immunotherapy capabilities.”