Breakthrough Scientific Discovery
Proteins play many critical roles in the body, including regulating the function of the body’s tissues and organs. In disease settings, proteins can erroneously change structure, function or localization as a direct result of nitration and/or oxidative stress. Nitration-dependent diseases include age-related conditions, such as neurodegenerative disease, heart disease and cancer, which affect millions of people.
Long believed to be a chemical reaction and therefore a poor drug target, nitration has been an elusive area for drug development. Nitrome Biosciences’ scientists were the first to identify the enzyme dependent nature of nitration (vs. chemical) and elucidate its potential as a small molecule drug target.
Armed with the most sophisticated knowledge of protein nitration, Nitrome is initially targeting Parkinson’s disease (PD), a condition widely associated with nitration. One common feature of neurodegenerative diseases is protein aggregation, and PD specifically is associated with synuclein aggregation. Synuclein aggregates are heavily nitrated and this nitration strongly induces neurodegenerative disease in preclinical models, promoting neuronal death. It is also known that protein nitration causes changes in protein structure, function and/or location for multiple proteins. Nitrome’s discovery of the specific synuclein nitration enzyme, Synuclein NItrase, represents a significant scientific breakthrough that provides an ideal therapeutic target to halt Parkinson’s disease.
Given the pervasive and common pathology of nitration, especially in the elderly, Nitrome plans to expand its research beyond Parkinson’s disease into other therapeutic areas in aging and inflammation related diseases, including other neurodegenerative conditions, heart disease and cancer.