TauRx Therapeutics Ltd, a spin-off company from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, recently hosted a breakfast event to inform both patients and caregivers about their phase III clinical trial, which will test a treatment for behavioral variant Frontotemporal Dementia (bvFTD), and is currently enrolling participants. The “Meet the Experts” breakfast was held on Friday, October 24, which included a Caregivers Session, during the 9th International Conference on Frontotemporal Dementias (ICFTD), at the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre, Canada.
During the breakfast event the Chairman of TauRx, Claude Wischik, a board-certified psychiatrist and professor of Old Age Psychiatry at the University of Aberdeen, and Sharon Cohen, the director of the Toronto Memory Program, a multidisciplinary and community-based medical facility, specialized in the diagnosis and treatment of dementia and responsible for one of the largest clinical trials in Canada, hosted a presentation on the disease, which is the second most common type of dementia, and for which there is no approved treatment.
“Because bvFTD is such a little known and little understood disease that affects people at a relatively young age, it is important to raise awareness about this clinical trial,” explained Liz Moench, the president and CEO of MediciGlobal, the company responsible for enrolling patients for the trial. “Since there is currently no effective treatment for bvFTD, what TauRx is accomplishing is critical to physicians, caregivers, and patients alike. As a partner in this effort, we are highly motivated to keep this momentum going.”
TauRx is currently looking for patients suffering from bvFTD to participate in their trial, which seeks to meet the need for a treatment for a disease that usually affects patients between the ages of 40 and 50, causing personality alterations and loss of empathy, which may lead it to a misdiagnosis of schizophrenia or bipolarity. However, the real diagnosis of bvFTD provokes global dementia, featuring a particularly faster, more aggressive progression than Alzheimer’s.
The company is testing their LMTX drug, a compound expected to be able to target the brain process in which the tau protein starts to self-aggregate and bind neuronal waste-products. This process creates aggregates that have the ability to reproduce indefinitely, through the tau protein, which is then converted into more toxic aggregates. Therefore, the drug blocks the aggregation, releasing the protein by clearing it to the nerve cells. In addition, it also acts on the binding protein TDP-43, which also participates in the development of the disease.
Claude Wischik, who is leading the study, is in fact a pioneer in the research of the Tau protein, as he was the first to establish a correlation between its tangles and Alzheimer’s disease, a research project he started working on in 1985. The psychiatrist was later able to understand the protein’s compositional structure within the Alzheimer’s tangles, which led to the development of a pharmaceutical solution to dissolve the tangles, called Tau Aggregation Inhibitors. In addition, he was also one of the first investigators to demonstrate the relationship between clinical dementia and Tau aggregation at the biochemical level, irrespective of ß-amyloid load in human brain.
The TRx-237-007 clinical trial is a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, which will evaluate the safety and efficacy of LMTX, for a therapeutic period of 12 months, as well as alterations in the performance of the patients at the beginning and end of the study on two standard clinical assessments. TauRx is looking to enroll 180 participants in about 70 study sites throughout Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Singapore, United Kingdom and the United States.
The company has already conducted a pilot series of cases, in which they were able to understand LMTX’s ability to block bvFTD’s progression. In order to search for bvFDT patients for their phase III trial, TauRx has been especially dedicated to technological methods, with the support of MediciGlobal, namely engaging with the Alzheimer’s community through the Facebook community “Alzheimer’s Team.” More information on the trial can be found the website FTDglobalstudy.com.