Toxicity study for neuroprotective stroke treatment

29 October 2020

This World Stroke Day, MSWA is pleased to provide an update on our funded research that has the potential to benefit stroke patients.

MSWA is proud to have contributed funding to the Perron Institute’s Adjunct Associate Professor Bruno Meloni and Clinical Professor Neville Knuckey towards collecting data for a potential neuroprotective drug for stroke and other conditions.

The study, which involves collecting initial in vitro (cell culture) toxicity data, is part of an advanced preclinical research study on a potential early intervention to limit the extent of brain damage in stroke patients.

The treatment also has potential to limit brain damage in infants when stroke occurs, due to oxygen deprivation just before, during or immediately after birth.

It involves a polyarginine peptide R18, now renamed ARG-007 in anticipation of commercialisation.

The preclinical assessment of an unwanted immune response is critical for any ‘biologic’ drug (e.g. peptide or protein) due to their immunotoxic potential.

This study used human blood samples in a laboratory to help predict any immunological adverse reactions and provide a preclinical risk assessment for any potential reactions in humans shortly after administration of the drug.

Despite considerable research, there are currently no pharmacological treatments marketed to protect the brain from damage following stroke or to extend the therapeutic time window of opportunity for dissolving or surgically removing stroke-causing clots.

This cell culture-based study indicates that ARG-007, in therapeutic doses, has a low capacity to activate an adverse immunological response.

“Further toxicity investigations and safety assessments are planned, but the recent findings are encouraging,” said Associate Professor Bruno Meloni.

This study was co-funded by Argenica Therapeutics, the company set up to drive the drug development forward.

The immunotoxicity research builds on previous preclinical efficacy studies, also supported by MSWA. In these studies, the ARG-007 peptide has shown potent neuroprotective properties and the potential for significant reduction of brain damage if administered after the onset of stroke in an experimental model.

Further toxicity and safety studies are required for advancement of ARG-007 towards clinical trials.

MSWA is the leading contributor to neurological research in Western Australia. Read more about our funded research here.