Halle/Saale, June 15, 2010 — Probiodrug AG (Probiodrug), a biopharmaceutical company developing novel concepts and products for the treatment of neurodegenerative and inflammatory diseases with a particular focus on Alzheimer’s disease, last month hosted the conference “Proline Specific Cleavage and Oxoprolyl-Formation – Functions and Therapeutic Strategies” (PSP 2010), the fourth meeting of a series of conferences on dipeptidyl peptidases and related enzymes (2002 in Berlin, 2005 in Magdeburg and 2008 in Antwerp).
The meeting series started with a focus on proline-specific enzymes and was extended 2010 in Halle to oxo-proline forming enzymes. The PSP 2010 conference attracted more than 150 scientists from Europe, the US, Australia and Japan and focused on the biochemistry, biology and physiology of three key metabolic enzymes – glutaminyl cyclase (QC), dipeptidyl peptidase 4 (DP4/CD26) and prolyl oligopeptidase (POP/PREP). They are involved in post-translational modifications of peptides and proteins and thereby influence many metabolic and regulatory processes. As a result, dysregulation of these enzymes leads to disease processes. Besides their enzymatic activity, these three key players of metabolism also serve as cell- and tissue specific receptors for ligands and binding proteins, which make them unique among many other enzymes. Therefore, they are considered to be important therapeutic targets.
In eight sessions, experts discussed substrates and physiological functions of DP4 and related enzymes as well as their role in various diseases and dealt with current challenges in elucidating the function of prolyl- and related endopeptidases. A session on the role of QC in Alzheimer’s disease and various additional inflammatory conditions of the CNS and the periphery concluded the conference. The abstract book is available online at: http://redir.ec/PSPa
“In the life sciences, academic and industry research institutions of the Halle/Saale region in Germany are focusing on protein science and structural biology, and the region is home of numerous innovative biotech companies,” said Prof Dr Hans-Ulrich Demuth, CSO and co-founder of Probiodrug. “Many conference participants have already established collaborations in the area and we are happy that the meeting has tightened those ties and provided new opportunities for cooperation.”
Highlights of the conference have been the opening speech by Prof Ansorge of IMTM in Magdeburg, who briefly referred to the history of this meeting series and to one of the originators of this research, Prof Alfred Barth, Halle (Saale), who attended the conference. Another highlight in this session focusing on DP4-like enzymes has been the presentation of Dr Ruth Geiss-Friedländer, University of Göttingen, describing the biological function of the cytosolic dipeptidyl peptidase 9 (DP9) in the development of cell identity.
The sessions on Prolyl Endopeptidase and related enzymes were organized in collaboration with the partners of the project “nEuroPro”, a collaborative project receiving funds from the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme (see also http://www.neuropro.eu/). Opening a series of intriguing presentations, Prof John Creemers, K.U. Leuven, highlighted the role of prolyl oligopeptidase and related enzymes (PEP, POP or PREP, PREPL) in brain function and dysfunction. Among others, Dr Markus Morawski, Paul Flechsig Institute for Brain Research (Leipzig) discussed the subcellular localization of PREP and PREPL in neuronal cells and suggested functions in intracellular transport and protein secretion for these enzymes.
The third focus of the meeting addressed neurodegenerative disorders and, in particular, toxic pyroglutamated A β-peptides and the enzymes responsible for forming them. Noteworthy have been, among others, the presentations by Prof Cynthia Lemere, Harvard Medical School, who described the localization of these peptide species as being present primarily in the deposits of Alzheimer’s patients, by Dr Takaomi Saido of Riken Brain Science Institute, who related the formation of the pyroglutamated Aβ-peptides to metabolic dysfunctions, and by Dr Makoto Higuchi of the NIRS in Chiba, demonstrating the interplay between pyroglutamated Aβ-peptide toxicity and neuroinflammation. In addition, Probiodrug researcher Dr Stephan Schilling presented for the first time data on QC and isoQC knock-out mice, and his colleague Dr Holger Cynis discussed the usefulness of targeting the QC enzymes in peripheral inflammatory disorders.
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
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