China’s XW Laboratories and the University of Pittsburgh have signed an exclusive licensing agreement to commercialize a class of novel compounds that can be used to regulate mitochondria processes in a range of cancers and neurodegenerative diseases.
Mitochondria control energy production, metabolism and stress response in cells, as well as cell death. That makes mitochondria central to several human diseases. Yet production of damaging compounds known as reactive oxidative species (ROS) is a symptom of dysfunctional mitochondria; it contributes to aging, neurodegenerative diseases and cancer.
For this reason, researchers have long sought to reduce and control ROS as a therapeutic path for mitochondria dysfunction. Professor Peter Wipf‘s research team at the University of Pittsburgh has focused on developing compounds that can regulate mitochondrial processes and manage lipid membrane composition.
Now, Wipf’s team has developed XJB-5-131, a mitochondria-targeted bis-nitroxide. This new technology will deliver — directly and specifically to mitochondria — a compound that can collect and neutralize ROS elements, blocking their damaging activity.
Preclinical studies with animal models for Huntington’s disease and traumatic brain injury have shown the potential antioxidant and therapeutic effect of XJB-5-131 in reducing disease symptoms and progression. Scientific journals as Nature Neuroscience and Cell Reports have published the team’s findings.
XW Labs, with headquarters in the Chinese city of Wuhan, maintains research and development operations in both mainland China and Taiwan.
“XW Labs is very excited to partner with the University of Pittsburgh on the commercialization of these compounds derived from mitochondria-targeting technology,” company founder and CEO Jia-Ning Xiang said in a press release. “We plan to initiate preclinical studies by the end of this year.”
In the two and half years since its foundation, XW Labs has established a diversified portfolio in the central nervous system (CNS) area. The company’s flagship program — now going through pre-clinical toxicology studies — features an internally developed novel pro-drug compound for two CNS indications. Phase 1 clinical trials for this program should begin in the second half of 2017.