19 March 2020

Partnership established to expedite MND treatment

Accelerating the conversion of laboratory research findings into clinical trials is the focus of a new partnership between the Perron Institute in Western Australia and United States based biotech company Black Swan Pharmaceuticals.

Black Swan Pharmaceuticals’ goal is to be a translational research engine, fast-tracking the development and clinical availability of novel therapeutic molecules so people who are suffering can access treatment sooner.

A key priority for this “bench to bedside” collaboration with the Perron Institute is motor neurone disease (MND), also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

With only two drugs currently available for MND, Professor Anthony Akkari, head of Motor Neurone Disease Genetics and Therapeutics Research at the Perron Institute sees the need for more therapeutic options as urgent and largely unaddressed.

Professor Akkari, who is also Foundation Chair of Industrial Pharmacogenetics at Murdoch University, spent over 15 years in the U.S. working in the pharmaceutical industry with GlaxoSmithKline, Eli Lilly and Duke University.

Since returning to WA in 2017 he has brought together a global group of scientists and industry experts to speed up the development of drugs and diagnostics for people suffering from debilitating neurodegenerative diseases.

“A novel therapeutic to delay or prevent the progression of MND is being developed in Perth,” Professor Akkari said. “This has shown excellent results in preclinical models.”

“Evidence has also indicated its possible application for a wide range of MND patients.”

Globally, an estimated 220,000 people suffered from MND in 2015, and by 2040 that number is projected to increase to 370,000.

Black Swan Pharmaceuticals CEO Craig Metz PhD, who has over 45 years’ commercialisation and major pharmaceutical company industry experience, is energised by the potential of the new partnership with the Perron Institute.

“We aim to combine the pioneering research program at the Perron Institute with our deep drug development and regulatory governance experience to develop an engine for rapid progression from the bench to the bedside,” he said.

Perron Institute CEO Steve Arnott is confident the partnership will produce significant outcomes to benefit the community.

“This collaboration between the Perron Institute and Black Swan Pharmaceuticals provides an innovative means of delivering much-needed treatments to people with complex neurological conditions including motor neurone disease,” he said.

Background
Perron Institute for Neurological and Translational Science

• For 38 years, the Perron Institute (WA’s longest established medical research institute) has continued to build its reputation as a world-class medical research institute which has made significant breakthroughs across a broad spectrum of neurological conditions.
• The Perron Institute has facilities within the Queen Elizabeth II Medical Centre, Nedlands and Murdoch University in Perth, and brings together laboratory scientists, neurologists, neurosurgeons, clinical psychologists, physiotherapists and other health professionals to tackle the major challenges in neurology.

Black Swan Pharmaceuticals

Black Swan Pharmaceuticals (BSP) is dedicated to discovering and progressing innovative gene targeting therapeutics for MND / Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and other neurological disorders with significant unmet need. BSP, incorporated in 2018, is the realisation of an initiative, led by Prof Anthony Akkari in partnership with the Perron Institute to accelerate the ground-breaking research occurring at its Motor Neurone Research Laboratory and other research institutes in Western Australia. The BSP business model will efficiently and economically progress these assets from the discovery setting to US FDA Investigational New Drug Application (IND) submission readiness divestiture for initiation of clinical development.

Media contacts:

Tennille Kroemer, Perron Institute: +61 426 044 223
Julian Arbuckle, Black Swan Pharmaceuticals: +44 20 8677 4533

Black Swan team with Steve Arnott Perron Institute

L-R: Anthony Akkari, Loren Flynn, Steve Arnott, Julian Arbuckle