Herantis Pharma was granted a patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for the use of MANF (mesencephalic astrocyte-derived neurotrophic factor) in the treatment of neurological diseases like epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease or ischemic brain injury.
The patent (No. 9,592,270) is titled “Neurotrophic factor MANF and uses thereof.”
The patent is related to a genetic sequence encoding MANF. The MANF molecules, such as MANF nucleic acids and MANF polypeptides, can be useful in the development of therapeutic and diagnostic tools that for the treatment or prevention of MANF-dependent conditions. For example, even though the reason behind MANF activity in mammalian tissues is still unclear, in this study, MANF expression was found to change after an epileptic attack.
The patent also covers a kit and reagents to diagnose a MANF-dependent disorder in a mammal. The kit comprises a reagent that can detect the presence or absence of a mutation in the DNA sequence encoding MANF and elevated or decreased levels of MANF polypeptide and/or MANF antibodies, indicating a MANF-dependent disorder.
“MANF is the only known neurotrophic and neuroprotective factor similar to our drug candidate CDNF, which is now entering clinical development,” Henri Huttunen, chief scientific officer of Finland-based Herantis, said in a press release.
Cerebral dopamine neurotrophic factor (CDNF) is an endoplasmic reticulum-located and secreted protein that is neuroprotective and neurorestorative. In preclinical studies, CDNF administration has been shown to be safe.
According to published data, CDNF and MANF form a new family of neurotrophic factors (NTFs) that are distinct from conventional NTFs. In addition to their neurotrophic activity, they may also protect cells from endoplasmic reticulum stress, a condition associated with certain neurodegenerative or chronic diseases.
Due to CDNF’s protective and regenerative properties in mid-brain dopamine-generating cells, Herantis researchers are exploring a potential therapeutic effect in Parkinson’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), as well.
“Scientific research has revealed that despite their resemblance, both CDNF and MANF have unique features that make them very interesting drug candidates for slightly different target diseases,” Huttunen said. “We are currently developing CDNF for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, and this new patent also strengthens our patent portfolio in that specific field.”
The newly granted MANF patent, together with the CDNF patents previously granted to Herantis, are all based on research led by researchers at the Institute of Biotechnology at the University of Helsinki, led by Prof. Mart Saarma.