Bukwang, UK university to co-develop Parkinson’s disease treatment

Lee Han-soo  Published 2019.07.03  15:03  Updated 2019.07.03 15:03


Bukwang Pharmaceutical has signed a multibillion-won contract with University of Dundee’s “Drug Discovery Unit” (DDU) to co-develop a new therapeutic agent for Parkinson’s disease.

Bukwang Pharmaceutical headquarters in Daebang-dong, Seoul.

Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurological disorder, after Alzheimer’s disease, affecting around two people in every 1,000 people. Around 6.1 million people are living with the condition worldwide.

A key biological event in the development of Parkinson’s disease is the accumulation and misfolding of a small protein in the brain called alpha-synuclein, which can kill nerve cells. A study at the University of Oxford has shown that an enzyme, USP8, prevents the natural breakdown of alpha-synuclein.

Working in collaboration with George Tofaris at the University of Oxford, the DDU has identified series of drug-like molecules that block USP8 and could reduce the levels of alpha-synuclein in the brain, potentially providing treatment for Parkinson’s disease.

Bukwang believes that the partnership will strengthen the existing Dundee-Oxford relationship. The company will facilitate an additional three-year program of work at Dundee and Oxford to advance these drug-like molecules toward clinical development

It aims to formulate therapies for Parkinson’s disease and other diseases that have alpha-synuclein pathology implications. The company holds an exclusive option to acquire global development and commercialization rights of resulting novel molecules.

“We are delighted to be announcing this partnership with Bukwang,” Professor Paul Wyatt, head of the DDU, said. “Drug discovery for neurological disorders is especially challenging and an area where academia and industry need to be working together.”

This project brings together the clinical and translational research expertise in Oxford with Dundee’s professional drug discovery capabilities, allowing us to move one stage further toward a treatment, he added.

Bukwang CEO Yoo Hee-won also said, “Bukwang has a firm focus on research and development and a real commitment to innovation in drug development. We are very impressed with the DDU’s depth of expertise and track record and are pleased to be able to include the University of Oxford in this new partnership.”

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