Bioaxone Biosciences receives Fast-Track SBIR grant to assess potential of Rho Kinase 2 inhibitor

BioAxone BioSciences, Inc. announced today the receipt of a Fast-Track grant (R44 NS110290-01) from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), part of the National Institutes of Health, as part of the agency's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program. The grant provides funding for milestone-driven research to assess the potential of BA-1049, a Rho Kinase 2 (ROCK2) inhibitor in BioAxone's pipeline, to improve recovery in chronic spinal cord injury. BA-1049 is a first-in-class ROCK2-selective inhibitor that has shown promising safety and efficacy in multiple preclinical models of neurovascular disease.

The award for Phase 1 of the grant will fund proof of concept in spinal cord injury. BioAxone has accumulated a wealth of data to show the potential of BA-1049 to improve endothelial cell barrier function and restore the blood brain barrier in neurovascular disease. The blood brain barrier is also disrupted in neurotrauma, leading to secondary damage. The award is a "fast-track" grant, meaning Phase 1 and Phase 2 proposals are submitted simultaneously for evaluation. If Phase 1 is completed successfully the project will move into Phase 2, and the potential value of the grant could be up to $1.4 million. During the past four years, BioAxone has received over $6 million in grants to investigate treatments for cavernous angioma and spinal cord injury.

Under this grant, entitled "An oral ROCK2-selective inhibitor for treatment of chronic spinal cord injury," BA-1049 will be tested in animal models of spinal cord injury for efficacy in reversing ROCK2 activation at the site of injury, and for promoting functional recovery in chronic spinal cord injury.

Kenneth Rosen, PhD, Vice President of Research at BioAxone, said, "This award will support exploratory research on the potential of targeting the ROCK2 pathway to treat chronic spinal cord injury. The BioAxone preclinical team has unparalleled expertise in translating first-in-class drug development from preclinical research to spinal cord injury clinical trials." Dr. Rosen is the Principal Investigator on the grant.

"This award reinforces the need for new therapeutics to investigate axonal repair during rehabiliation, a time period when axonal plasticity is likely to be very important," said Lisa McKerracher, PhD, CEO, BioAxone BioSciences. "We are grateful to NINDS for supporting drug development programs to treat spinal cord injury."

The SBIR program was created by the U.S. Congress to strengthen the role of small, innovative companies in federally supported research and development. It is one of the largest sources of early-stage technology financing in the U.S. The NINDS is the nation's leading funder of research on the brain and nervous system and a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The content of this news release is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.

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