Drug Research
Drug Discovery & Development

Turing advances several experimental compounds into pre-clinical development

Published 22 September 2016

Turing Pharmaceuticals has advanced several experimental compounds into pre-clinical development.

The selected compounds come from a library of small molecules, discovered as part of Turing's research efforts in toxoplasmosis, with significantly improved potency and selectivity over current treatments in animal models of the disease.

With its discovery, Turing has initiated the regulatory safety studies and pharmaceutical development activities needed for an Investigational New Drug Application (IND) to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This will be Turing's fourth IND since the company's founding last year. Clinical trials with the new compounds are expected to begin in 2H2017.

Turing President of R&D, Eliseo Salinas, said: "There's a definitive need for new and improved therapies against toxoplasmosis. 

"Current therapies target a protein family that is required by both the parasite and its human host. Consequently, treating physicians are limited in the doses of the current products they can use to eliminate the parasite. The ability to selectively engage the parasite would maximize the opportunity to eliminate infection without harming the patient."

Toxoplasmosis is caused by Toxoplasma gondii - one of the most commonly found parasites worldwide. It is carried by about one in five Americans, with one million new infections each year.

In most cases the infection produces minor symptoms, if any. But in a small subset of patients it can have serious, sometimes fatal consequences. Despite the severity of the disorder, there have been no significant pharmaceutical advancements in its treatment since the introduction of currently utilized therapies over 50 years ago.

Turing's most advanced ongoing discovery program in toxoplasmosis focuses on developing inhibitors of dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) – an essential enzyme for folate metabolism and cellular proliferation. Current treatments target this pathway with modest selectivity for the parasite over its human host.

Applying state of the art computational chemistry, in silico screening and structure-based drug design to first identify a library of novel compounds, Turing subsequently optimized and tested the selected drug candidates in relevant disease models. These included compounds with low nanomolar potency and significantly higher selectivity for the parasite DHFR over human DHFR. This profile should enable a substantially greater therapeutic window and may eliminate drawbacks of current toxoplasmosis treatment, while potentially expanding the addressable patient population.

Source: Company Press Release