ACADIA Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ACAD), a biopharmaceutical company focused on innovative treatments that address unmet medical needs in neurological and related central nervous system disorders, today announced that it will receive funding from Fast Forward, LLC, a not-for-profit organization established by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and EMD Serono, a subsidiary of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. This funding will support ACADIA research, to be conducted in collaboration with Dr. Rhonda Voskuhl of UCLA, directed at using AC-186, ACADIA’s proprietary and selective estrogen receptor (ER)-beta agonist, as a new approach to the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS).
“We are grateful for the commitment by Fast Forward and EMD Serono, which will enable us to expand on promising research in our ER-beta program and broaden its application to MS,” said Uli Hacksell, Ph.D., ACADIA’s Chief Executive Officer. “We also are excited to collaborate on this research with Dr. Voskuhl, Professor and Program Director at the UCLA Department of Neurology, who is a recognized expert in MS and neuroprotection.”
Currently, there are multiple immunology-based, disease-modifying drugs approved for the treatment of relapsing forms of MS. In contrast, no drug is currently approved for the treatment of progressive forms of MS and no currently available drugs were developed to specifically target neurodegeneration in MS. A new MS drug with neuroprotective properties would fill this major unmet medical need. Studies in animal models of MS suggest that selective ER-beta receptor agonists provide neuroprotective effects while avoiding stimulation of ER-alpha receptors, which are believed to mediate toxicity. In this new program, AC-186, a selective ER-beta agonist discovered by ACADIA, will be evaluated to further test this hypothesis.
Fast Forward and EMD Serono will provide up to $545,000 to support preclinical studies with AC-186 designed to further evaluate pharmacokinetics and its therapeutic potential in preclinical models of MS. This funding will be provided by the parties’ Accelerating Commercial Development Fund, which is allocated to for-profit entities and is designed to accelerate the development of research discoveries into new or improved therapies for people with MS.“We are pleased to partner with ACADIA and UCLA on this innovative approach to targeting MS neurodegeneration,” said Dr. Timothy Coetzee, Chief Research Officer at the National MS Society and Fast Forward. “This is another example of our steadfast commitment to seek out and support promising new therapeutic approaches that address critical unmet needs and could improve the lives of patients with MS.”