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50 Most Valuable Brands of The Year 2017

Developing drugs against Alzheimer’s disease by novel approach: Cenna Biosciences Inc.

thesiliconreview-nazneen-dewji-ceo-cenna-biosciences-inc-17“We now have a new approach for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease that can arrest the production of ß-amyloid very early and specifically. It’s a real chance at a successful treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.” 

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that affects one in ten people over the age of 65 in all parts of the world. It is characterized by the progressive loss of intellectual function and memory. The number of individuals with AD is expected to triple by the year 2050 if no disease-modifying therapies are developed that can prevent the onset or arrest the progression of the disease. There is currently no cure for the disease. The cost of caring for people with Alzheimer’s disease is about $200 billion a year and this market is expected to grow at about 19% a year.

Cenna Biosciences Inc. is dedicated to the discovery and development of novel drugs to prevent and treat AD. The proprietary technology addresses the underlying cause of the disease, the inappropriate deposition of the toxic species, ß-amyloid (Aß), in the brains of patients with AD.

Aß is a small peptide that aggregates in the brain. It comes from a much larger precursor protein, the amyloid precursor protein (APP). It is cleaved out of the precursor by two enzymes, which are like molecular scissors, the ß- and the g-secretases. All the current approaches, apart from monoclonal antibodies, that are trying to inhibit the production of Aß have focused on these two enzymes. Researchers have tried to inhibit the catalytic activities of these proteases. That approach has been successful in reducing Aß, but the problem is that enzymes work on more than one substrate and these particular enzymes have something like fifty or sixty other substrates that they cleave, leading to serious off-target effects.

The Cenna Solution

Cenna’s technology targets the core cause that leads to the development of Alzheimer disease, the inappropriate deposition of the toxic species, Aβ, in the brains of patients suffering from the disease.

The Company, founded by Drs. Nazneen Dewji and S. J. Singer, has developed a novel target and is developing several lead peptide compounds as disease-modifying drug candidates for the treatment of AD. Cenna’s novel technology does not target ß- or γ-secretase, thus avoiding the inhibition or modulation of their other numerous substrates besides APP, including an important protein, Notch, that have confounded previous therapeutic efforts in the reduction of Aß.

Cenna’s approach to reducing Aβ to prevent Alzheimer disease is different from any approach by others so far. Cenna has developed a new way to reduce the production of Aß, using an approach that addresses some of the failures of previous approaches by others. Cenna’s drug candidates reduce Aß by binding to APP and by doing so, interfering with its cleavage to Aß.

What the CEO has to say…

When asked what keeps her going, Nazneen said, “I think it is the passion that I have. I have been working on Alzheimer’s disease since 1986 - that is when George G. Glenner first discovered that Aß was involved in Alzheimer’s disease! I need to see a therapy for this terrible disease. You keep going just like with everything else.”

Cornerstone of Cenna Biosciences

Cenna has the only technology which can reduce Aß substantially and specifically without targeting the secretases, that can potentially produce a disease modifying drug for Alzheimer’s disease. Cenna’s drug is expected to be useful for all stages of Alzheimer’s disease, as it would essentially arrest the disease at that stage by stopping the further production of Aß. One of the reasons why previous Alzheimer’s therapies have failed so far in clinical trials is that they have been given too late in the game. Cenna’s approach is the earliest, to intervene even before Aß is produced. The aim is to give the drug to people before the symptoms are apparent.

Cenna’s technology has been developed by the Founders of the Company and translates many years of their academic research at the University of California at San Diego (UCSD). The Intellectual Property that forms the basis of Cenna’s approach is covered by U.S. and foreign patents, filed by UCSD and exclusively licensed to Cenna by UCSD.

Cenna has been funded to date by non-diluting NIH and other grants and by the Founders. Cenna’s technology was published in the journal PLOS ONE in 2015.

“Our approach is different, specific and interferes with only the reaction that produces beta amyloid, as opposed to drugs that target the enzymes responsible for its cleavage from APP, which can affect multiple reactions in cells.”

- Nazneen Dewji, CEO