This application titled "Small Molecule p75 Neurotrophin Receptor Ligand to Treat Huntington's Disease" is in response to NINDS Exploratory/Developmental Projects in Translational Research (R21;program announcement: PAR-11-293). The current proposal will test whether a small molecule, non-peptide ligand for the p75 neurotrophic receptor (p75NTR) will be an effective treatment for Huntington's disease (HD). HD is a fatal neurodegenerative disease characterized by progressive motor and cognitive deficits. It is caused by a mutation in the gene that encodes the Huntington (htt) protein, which causes medium spiny neurons in the striatum to die. How mutant htt causes this effect is unclear;however, loss of neurotrophic support is purported to play a key and causal role and p75NTR has been implicated. P75NTR is up-regulated in the striatum of HD patients and mouse models and many central intermediate proteins in p75NTR signaling pathways are shared by pathways affected by mutant htt. Our laboratory has developed first-in-class small molecule, orally bioavailable p75NTR ligands that inhibit degenerative signaling, and prevent neurodegeneration. One lead ligand, LM11A-31, is well into development via our current NIA U01 program. It has completed multiple successful efficacy trials in Alzheimer disease (AD) mouse models and pre-IND studies in rats and dogs. Recently, the ligand received FDA approval for phase I clinical testing. Intellectual property for the compound is intact and owned by UNC and UCSF. These proposed studies will examine whether treatment with LM11A-31 is applicable to HD.
The aims of the proposal are to: (i) determine whether LM11A-31 will reduce cognitive and motor deficits as well as neuropathology in a mouse model (R6/2) that develops the HD phenotype rapidly and is therefore cost effective and ideal for PK/PD studies;and ii) determine if LM11A-31 will slow or prevent the development of HD-related behavior deficits and neuropathological features in another mouse model, BACHD. This mouse develop an HD phenotype much slower and less severely but is a better genetic replicate of the disease, thus positive results may be easier to discern and be more readily translatable to the clinic. Thus, targeting p75NTR could offset HD-related deleterious signaling, an entirely new hypothesis for HD treatment that our laboratory is uniquely able to investigate. Positive results in these studies will identify an entirely novel and feasible therapeutic strategy for reducing numerous HD phenotypes (motor and cognitive impairments as well as neuropathology), which are currently untreatable. This R21 proposal is designed to provide target validation data. Positive results obtained here would be the first validation that p75NTR is an effective therapeutic target for an HD model and could fast track LM11A-31 into HD clinical testing.
The current proposal will determine whether a novel, small molecule p75 neurotrophin receptor ligand, LM11A- 31, is an effective treatment for Huntington's disease (HD), which is a fatal neurodegenerative disease that currently has no cure. Loss of neurotrophic support plays a major role in the development of HD-related pathologies and recently the p75 neurotrophin receptor has been implicated. Our laboratory has developed first-in-class p75 ligands that prevent neuronal degeneration and have been FDA approved for phase I clinical testing. Thus, positive results obtained in these studies would be the first validation that p75 is an effective therapeutic target for HD and could rapidly advance LM11A-31 into HD clinical testing.