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Rosalind Franklin University Collaborates with Aptinyx to Research New Therapeutics for Brain Diseases

Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science is announcing a research collaboration with Aptinyx, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, to support the development of new therapeutics for brain and central nervous system disorders.

RFU’s Brain Science Institute works to identify and solve fundamental aspects of brain function and development and use those discoveries to understand the mechanisms of brain diseases. Under a recently executed research agreement, investigators within the institute will partner with Evanston-based Aptinyx, which is developing novel therapies for neurologic disorders including chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder and cognitive impairment.

“This is an exciting opportunity for neuroscientists at RFU to contribute to the advancement of novel treatments for difficult-to-treat disorders,” said Amiel Rosenkranz, PhD, director of the Brain Science Institute. “We are grateful to be working with Aptinyx on their promising therapeutics.”

Aptinyx has discovered and is developing a new series of compounds that act as positive allosteric modulators of the NMDA receptor and that demonstrate beneficial effects on learning, memory, executive function and cognitive regulation of pain and emotion.

Grace “Beth” Stutzmann, PhD, director of the Institute’s Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases and Therapeutics, will investigate the mechanism of action across various brain regions for selected compounds from Aptinyx’s pipeline. Dr. Stutzmann’s research focuses on the neuronal pathology that develops in Alzheimer's disease long before the onset of symptoms of cognitive decline.

“This research in collaboration with Aptinyx will hopefully enhance the understanding of new approaches to enhancing or protecting memory functions across a variety of conditions,” Dr. Stutzmann said. “Their initial findings are very compelling, and we’re excited to find out more about how these novel compounds enhance memory circuits at the cellular and local network levels.”

According to the United Brain Association, 20 million Americans experience some form of brain disease or neurological condition. One in five adults in the United States experience mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Health. Office of Marketing and Communications Neurological and mental illnesses often overlap. Many have no effective treatment, and their annual economic impact in the United States is more than $800 billion.

Joanna Dabrowska, PhD, with the institute’s Center for Neurobiology of Stress Resilience and Psychiatric Disorders, will also play an important role in the Aptinyx collaboration. She investigates how repeated stress exposure can lead to neuroplasticity of selective neuronal circuits and long-term changes in stress-coping behavior, which ultimately leads to the development of psychiatric disorders like depression, anxiety and/or addiction.

“Our Innovation and Research Park and therapeutic centers of excellence are designed to promote collaborations that can drive the translation of novel biomedical discoveries,” said Ronald Kaplan, PhD, RFU executive vice president for research. “Our research agreement with Aptinyx underscores that commitment and offers hope for people in desperate need of treatment for chronic neurological diseases.”

Aptinyx Chief Executive Officer Norbert Riedel, PhD, said, “We are excited and fortunate to be working with leaders in neuroscience research to enhance the understanding and characterization of our high-potential drug candidates in development for the treatment of these devastating conditions. It is encouraging to see such important work in neuroscience conducted right here in the Chicago area. We greatly appreciate the expertise, dedication, and contributions of the RFU team as we seek to bring new therapeutic options to patients in need.”

Posted September 22, 2021
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