Sunovion Pharmaceuticals and Afraxis have signed a partnership agreement to utilize the unique Enhanced Spine Platform (ESP) developed by Afraxis, Inc. to accelerate Sunovion’s preclinical central nervous system (CNS) drug discovery process. The use of this proprietary platform will allow Sunovion to identify novel CNS compounds that are potentially superior to existing treatments. While the full financial terms have not been disclosed, Afraxis will be eligible for certain milestone payments for each compound through phase 2 clinical trial initiation .
“Our partnership with Afraxis is one of several ways that Sunovion Discovery is taking a fresh approach to CNS drug discovery using systems biology as a fundamental strategy,” said Tom Large, senior vice president of discovery research at Sunovion. “A key goal of the partnership is to use ESP to guide the optimization of clinical drugs for a range of complex and often devastating psychiatric and neurological disorders.”
Dendritic spines are small protrusions on neuronal dendrites; they receive and store information from synapses and transmit that information to the neuronal cell body. Detailed analysis of dendritic spine morphology across distributed brain regions yields reliable disease spine “signatures” that can be used to screen for drug candidates that correct the disease-specific spine abnormalities. The technology behind the Afraxis ESP platform uses well-accepted dendritic spine measurement methods to evaluate spine morphology at rates of greater than a half million spines per month. The resulting information is invaluable and time-saving when making assessments of a molecule’s novel pharmacology and efficacy during preclinical testing.
“The scope of this collaboration with Sunovion envisions running up to one thousand compounds through our proprietary platform,” said Carmine Stengone, chief executive officer of Afraxis, Inc. “This collaboration offers further validation of the Afraxis ESP technology, and we feel the combination of Sunovion and Afraxis efforts will increase the odds of finding potential treatments in areas of high unmet medical need.”