Convelo Therapeutics has announced a collaboration with Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, to work toward the development of new remyelination therapies for multiple sclerosis (MS) and other myelin disorders.
“We are excited to be working with Genentech to discover and develop first-in-class therapies for patients suffering from diseases driven by myelin loss such as multiple sclerosis. This partnership combines the strengths of our two organizations to potentially bring new medicines to patients,” Derrick Rossi, PhD, CEO at Convelo, said in a press release.
Myelin is a fatty substance that coats nerve cells, sort of like a sheath, and insulates them. It helps the nerve cells function properly, and send electrical signals more efficiently.
Several neurological disorders, including MS, are characterized by a loss of myelin. In MS, the immune system starts to attack myelin, damaging it, and ultimately leading to impaired nerve cell activity. This, in turn, leads to the development of MS symptoms.
Most disease-modifying treatments for MS are focused on reducing the activity of the immune cells, with the intent of preventing further damage. However, stopping the immune system’s attack doesn’t do anything to reverse or mitigate the damage that has already been done. To achieve that, a treatment would need to actively help restore myelin to damaged neurons, through a process called remyelination.
Remyelinating therapies are the “holy grail” of MS treatments, since these therapies could, in theory, do more than just prevent disease progression. However, as of now, there are no approved MS therapies aimed at remyelination.
Through this collaboration, Convelo and Genetech intend to join forces to develop new therapies that can help to fill this unmet need. The partnership will build on the remyelinating targets and proprietary screening platform developed by Convelo’s scientific founders, Paul Tesar and Drew Adams.
“There have been important treatment advancements for people living with multiple sclerosis, but many still experience disability progression,” said James Sabry, MD, PhD, the global head of pharma partnering at Roche. “Novel medicines that regenerate the myelin around nerve cells could help address this significant need.
“We look forward to collaborating with Convelo to hopefully deliver new options to people with multiple sclerosis and other neurological disorders,” he added.
As part of the agreement, Convelo will receive an upfront payment of an undisclosed amount, as well as research support, from Genetech. In return, Genetech gets the exclusive right to purchase all outstanding stock of Convelo for an additional undisclosed amount, and further unspecified milestones.