PharmaKure, a pharmaceutical company spun out from the University of Manchester, announces that its Chief Executive, Dr Farid Khan, is a speaker at the Biotech Outsourcing Strategies Conference, to be held at Manchester Central on the 28th and 29th November. His presentation is entitled, ‘The Spinout Journey from Drug Repurposing to Clinical Trials for Diagnosing and Treating Alzheimer's Disease’. The talk will emphasise the need to address both diagnosis and therapies for Alzheimer’s Disease: a fatal illness that causes progressive decline of brain function and represents 60-80% of dementia cases, affecting 45 million people worldwide.
Dr Khan began his pharmaceutical career at GlaxoSmithKline, working in assay and drug development before completing a PhD in protein folding at the University of Cambridge. This began his fascination with protein misfolding and how this can lead to cognitive decline in diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Farid founded PharmaKure in 2012 with Professor Andrew Doig when both worked at the University of Manchester. Their concept was to repurpose existing drugs to delay or prevent the formation of toxic misfolded proteins in neurodegenerative diseases. In 2018-2020, the Company developed a number of repurposed drugs that are able to disaggregate toxic proteins in Alzheimer’s Disease animal models.
Alzheimer’s Disease is notoriously difficult to tackle, with hundreds of drugs failing clinical trials. It was clear to Farid and his colleagues that diagnosis of the disease at its earliest stages was paramount before any treatment could be envisaged. This led to a programme of searching for ‘protein signatures’ or biomarkers in blood to give a snapshot of the disease progression. Farid will discuss this and the recently announced results of a successful trial for a novel blood test to identify and stratify the risk of people developing Alzheimer’s Disease.
In 2022, PharmaKure undertook the blood-based Alzheimer’s biomarker trial using its proprietary whole blood test on highly characterised Alzheimer’s patients which included brain scans, genetic data and memory tests, as well as blood samples. The study was designed to focus on testing whole blood for the presence of amyloid deposits in the brain (verified by PET imaging or cerebrospinal fluid CSF analyses), as well as disease progression, by measuring levels of biomarker proteins. The study’s results confirm that using whole blood, rather than just the blood plasma fraction, can identify people who are at high risk of developing full-blown Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, machine learning software shows which biomarkers are most useful for this purpose.
One of the key advantages of using PharmaKure’s whole blood test (ALZmetrixTM) is that it may enable the development of a screening system to catch Alzheimer’s before any major memory problems become apparent. This would allow treatments to be offered earlier, thus providing better population-based health outcomes, lowering health system costs and improving the quality of life of millions of patients.
“These results represent an important step in developing whole blood tests for Alzheimer’s disease to address a major unmet need for an alternative to PET and CSF scans,” said Farid Khan, PhD, CEO at PharmaKure Limited. “This study has demonstrated how to obtain early warning signs of cognitive decline using whole blood. We will be using the exciting data to expand our ALZmetrixTM test to additional patients and new biomarkers.”