The goal of drug discovery and pre-clinical development is to identify therapeutic agents that can slow or reverse neurodegeneration in experimental models, and develop these agents for clinical trials. Our lab is focused on discovering therapeutic agents for Huntington's and Parkinson's diseases using methods of high throughput screening, rational drug design, and medicinal chemistry lead optimization.
We employ diverse approaches for small molecule targeting various pathophysiologic pathways of neurodegeneration. We conduct early stages of drug discovery in cellular models of neurodegeneration, and assess animal efficacy of identified promising molecules in disease rodent models. Our overall goal is to advance candidates emerged form these studies for therapeutic clinical development.
We have had early success using this strategy and discovered a novel compound, C2-8, that decreases aggregation in a cell-based assay of huntingtin aggregation. The compound was found to improve behavior, decrease aggregation and decrease neuronal atrophy in a mouse model of Huntington's disease.
Recently we identified drugs, the inhibitors od SIRT2 decaetylase, protecting dopamine neurons from alpha-synuclein induced cell death in vitro and in vivo in models of Parkinson's disease. Human deacetylase SIRT2, one of seven human sirtuins, regulates acetylation of tubulin and thereby affects the cytoskeleton and neuronal plasticity. Currently brain-permeable SIRT2 inhibitors start emerging from structure activity relationship studies. Efficacy animal trials are planned once the safety and tolerability of the new agents is explored.
Aleksey G. (Alex) Kazantsev, PhD
Research Interests: Huntington's and Parkinson's diseases
Research Techniques: High throughput screening, rational drug design, and medicinal chemistry lead optimization
Diseases Studied: Huntington's and Parkinson's diseases
Research Assistants & Technicians
Therapeutic targeting of aggregation pathway to reduce levels of neurotoxic intermediates
Drug discovery studies are underway to test small molecule inhibitors of polyglutamine aggregation. To date, structure-activity relationship (SAR) studies have been conducted on three scaffolds, yielding three candidate compounds. C2-8 rescued--in a dose-dependent manner--neurodegeneration of photoreceptor neurons in our lab’s Drosophila HD model. The results of these studies suggest a promising profile for possible administration to humans.
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