Halle/Saale, July 6, 2010 — Probiodrug AG (Probiodrug), a biotech company developing novel concepts and products for the treatment of neurodegenerative and inflammatory diseases with a particular focus on Alzheimer’s disease, today announced the appointment of Prof Dr Dr hc Christian Haass to the Company’s Scientific Advisory Board.
In his work, Prof Haass focuses on the molecular and cellular mechanisms of the two most abundant human neurodegenerative disorders, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. In Alzheimer’s disease, he has elucidated the biochemistry and molecular biology of secretases. These enzymes are involved in the generation of amyloid beta (Aß) peptides, which play a crucial role in the disease.
During his career, Prof Haass has, among others, demonstrated that amyloid beta peptides are constantly produced throughout the entire life of a human being and that accumulation of the protein in the brain is a normal aging process. Since then, he and his group have been focusing on the mechanisms of amyloid beta production. Among others, they demonstrated that the amyloid beta peptide is a cleavage product of the so-called amyloid precursor protein (APP), a protein with an unknown function, which is present in neuronal cell membranes. Haass’ group also discovered that APP is cleaved by a hitherto unknown class of enzymes, the secretases, which consists of several proteins. Haass also characterized numerous mutations of these proteins and studied ways to modulate the activity of secretases. In addition, he introduced the Zebrafish as a model organism into the Alzheimer field.
“We are very pleased to announce another outstanding Alzheimer specialist joining our scientific advisory board,” commented Prof Dr Hans-Ulrich Demuth, Chief Scientific Officer of Probiodrug AG. “Prof Dr Haass is among the world’s leading Alzheimer’s experts and his work combining genetics, cell biology and biochemistry clearly has set novel standards in this field, leading to novel approaches, research strategies and therapeutic targets. As a result, his experience and advice will be very valuable for Probiodrug.”
“We heartily welcome Prof Dr Haass,” said Prof Dr Axel Kleemann, Chairman of Probiodrug’s Scientific Advisory Board and former CSO of the German pharma company Asta Medica. “With the QC glutaminyl cyclase enzyme, Probiodrug has developed an entirely novel approach for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, and Prof Dr Haass’ expertise will be very important in further elucidating the details of the pathophysiology of QC.”
“As a scientist, who works in this field for 20 years, I am extremely pleased and excited about Probiodrug’s excellent and highly innovative contributions to the understanding of Alzheimer’s disease pathology and potential future treatment strategies,” said Prof Dr Haass.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is characterized by the accumulation of neurotoxic plaques in the brain of AD patients. It has been discovered by Probiodrug that Aß peptides carrying an N-terminal pyroglutamic residue are prone to form seeds of the depositions. These modified peptides are formed through a hitherto unknown catalytic activity of the enzyme glutaminyl cyclase (QC). Based on these findings, Probiodrug has developed a novel therapeutic concept for AD involving small molecule inhibitors of QC.
Probiodrug is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of innovative small molecule drugs for the treatment of neuronal and inflammatory diseases. In these areas, Probiodrug is validating new targets with the prospect of first and best in class therapeutics. The Company has a dominant position in the area of glutaminyl cyclase (QC) inhibition, an enzyme emerging with a crucial role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and various additional inflammatory conditions. In addition, the Company is pursuing further novel approaches in the area of inflammatory diseases.
Probiodrug’s core expertise is based on its long-standing, unique experience with the structure and function elucidation of enzymes, which play a central role in the maturation of hormones. The Company has pioneered the field of DP4-inhibition for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Compounds and technology patents of its DP4 (dipeptidyl peptidase 4) program in diabetes were licensed to various pharmaceutical companies. In 2004, all metabolic assets were sold to (OSI) Pharmaceuticals Ltd. The first drug based on Probiodrug`s technologies reached the market in late 2006. Proceeds of the various transactions have been reinvested to fund the novel approach for the treatment of AD.
The Company was founded in 1997 by Prof Dr Hans-Ulrich Demuth and Dr Konrad Glund. Probiodrug has raised EUR 56 mio for its QC program so far, with the last round being closed end of 2009. In 2007, the company acquired Ingenium Pharmaceuticals AG; Hendrik Liebers joined the company as CFO the same year. Probiodrug is located in Halle (Saale), Germany, and operates a subsidiary in Martinsried/Munich, Germany. For more information, please visit www.probiodrug.de.
Prof Dr Hans-Ulrich Demuth
Vice-CEO and CSO
D-06120 Halle/ Saale
Tel.: +49 345 55599-00
Fax: +49 345 55599-01
Dr Ludger Weß
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Tel.: +49 40 88 16 59 64
Fax: +49 40 88 16 59 65