The French company will provide funding for research by Monash University, St Vincent’s Institute of Medical Research and the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health into developing drugs that target the protein Insulin-Regulated AminoPeptidase (IRAP).
Currently, drugs do exist for the treatment of Alzheimer’s, but this is the first drug that could potentially arrest the disease progression, in contrast to all current prescribed therapies.
Research leader Dr Siew Yeen Chai from Monash University’s Department of Physiology said “Our lab was the first to demonstrate that compounds that block IRAP, the IRAP inhibitors, had memory-enhancing properties, but we recently discovered that these compounds also have the ability to stop Alzheimer’s from progressing.
“A number of clinical trials of Alzheimer’s treatments have stumbled, due to unforeseen outcomes. With the funding from Servier, we are hoping to reduce that by figuring out exactly how and why these treatments have the effects that they do.”
Servier has announced it will provide funding for the researchers to develop their findings and determine exactly how IRAP inhibitors work to reduce amyloid plaque load in the brain.
The project is still in its early stages and new therapies based on IRAP are likely to be at least a few years away.
Sally Capp, Agent-General for Victoria in the UK and Europe said: “Melbourne continues to prove itself as a world leader in life sciences research, with pioneering developments including the bionic eye clinical trials, the progress towards a cure for HIV and the trials for prevention of cerebral palsy, demonstrating the astonishing capability and dedication of Victoria-based researchers.
“Victoria is home to Australia’s largest biotechnology sector, with more than 150 companies and organisations constantly working collaboratively to deliver innovative medical developments like this that can improve lives around the world.”