SAN FRANCISCO, April 11 /PRNewswire/ -- Antipodean Pharmaceuticals founded in New Zealand in 2002, announced today, that it has established headquarters in San Francisco. The company is developing treatments for Parkinson's Disease and Friedreich ataxia, as well as other disorders associated with mitochondrial dysfunction. MitoQ, its lead product will be entering Phase 2 clinical trials for Parkinson's Disease in Australia and New Zealand next month. The candidate is also being developed and is preparing to enter Phase 2 trials in Australia for Friedreich ataxia, a rare neurological condition with general age of onset during the pre-teen years. The company is also aiming to initiate trials for this indication in centers in the US. If successful, MitoQ will be the first disease modifying therapy available for Parkinson's Disease and Friedreich ataxia.
"We are pleased to be moving our headquarters to San Francisco to take advantage of the Bay Area's resident expertise in pharmaceutical development," said Ken Taylor PhD, Chief Executive Officer, Antipodean Pharmaceuticals, Inc. "Importantly, we will also continue to work closely with centers of excellence in Australia and New Zealand where we have strong relationships with disease experts and have been able to conduct early stage research and clinical trials with great efficiency. We look forward to initiating the Phase 2 trials for MitoQ -- a compound we believe has real potential to change the way both Parkinson's Disease and Friedreich ataxia are viewed and treated." Over the past 30 years as Medical Director and then Managing Director of Roche companies in New Zealand, the United Kingdom and California, Dr Taylor has been involved in the clinical development of multiple commercialized drugs: Madopar and Tasmar for the treatment of Parkinson's Disease, and Pulmozyme, Roferon, Rocephin, and Xenical among others.
MitoQ (mitoquinone) is based on a novel technology, targeted lipophilic cations, that take advantage of the differential charge of the mitochondria to transport and concentrate antioxidants. Using Antipodean's highly engineered approach, the antioxidants accumulate up to 1000 fold in the mitochondria where they have been shown to interrupt oxidative damage and prevent apoptosis. Mitochondria, present in all cells provide essential energy for life processes. A number of studies including a 2005 lead article in the Journal of Biological Chemistry have confirmed that mitochondrial dysfunction plays a key role in the pathogenesis of serious neurodegenerative disorders and that mitochondrial-targeted antioxidant therapy may be pivotal in preventing cell death. MitoQ was discovered by Michael Murphy and Robin Smith at the University of Otago, NZ.
"We are beginning enrollment of the Phase 2 Parkinson's study in the next few weeks and 120 people will be included in the trial," said Barry Snow, MD, FRACP, FRCP, Head of the Department of Neurology, Auckland Hospital and Principal Investigator. "If successful, MitoQ will be the first agent to effectively modify the course of this debilitating disease and ideally allow Parkinson's patients to live more normal lives."
In Parkinson's Disease, nerve cells in the part of the brain that produce dopamine begin to die resulting in the lack of coordination in movements, tremor, stiff muscles and joints, and difficulty moving. Existing treatments only treat symptoms. They are reasonably effective for the first few years, but the drugs then lose their potency. Troublesome dyskinesias (excessive, uncontrolled movements), dementia, hallucinations and random periods of severe immobility begin to supervene in many patients as the disease progresses.
Friedreich ataxia typically affects pre-teen children and renders them non-ambulatory within 15 years. Friedreich ataxia is a genetic neurological disease recognized as a progressive mitochondrial disorder that arises when accumulated iron reacts with oxygen to form harmful free radicals. The resultant oxidative damage to mitochondria leads to premature cell death of neurons.
"Antipodean Pharmaceuticals represents a new generation of biotechnology company from down-under that is focused on developing drugs based on promising science from labs around the world in a capital efficient way," said Deepa Pakianathan, PhD, general partner, Delphi Ventures.
Antipodean investors include: Delphi Ventures, 5AM Ventures, GBS Venture Partners and Versant Ventures.
Antipodean is a clinical-stage pharmaceutical company developing treatments for Parkinson's Disease, Friedreich ataxia, and other disorders associated with mitochondrial dysfunction. The company's lead product, MitoQ, has completed Phase 1 and will soon be studied in Friedreich ataxia and Parkinson's Disease. No curative or disease modifying therapies exist for either disease. The company recently opened its corporate headquarters in San Francisco, California and maintains an operational base in Auckland, New Zealand. It will continue to work closely with researchers and investigators in New Zealand and Australia as well as in the Bay Area and elsewhere in the US to develop MitoQ and other therapeutics based on mitochondrial targeting.
Further information is available from the website: www.antipodeanpharma.com
Antipodean Pharmaceuticals, Inc.