No drug has ever been approved for nerve repair, but that may be about to change thanks to groundbreaking research by prize-winning scientist Jerry Silver.
His discovery, NVG-291, has been thirty years in development and shows considerable promise in the treatment of nerve damage. If this drug is all it’s cracked up to be, it could offer real hope to patients who have had Alzheimer’s disease for years.
Here’s the remarkable story…
Scientists have found it a daunting challenge to fix the nervous system when extensive damage occurs through either trauma or neurodegenerative disease. They’ve had no success in developing a drug that allows patients to regain full use of their minds or bodies after this damage takes place.
Unlike traditional Alzheimer’s drugs, NVG-291 targets a protein that allows the body to heal itself and overcome many central nervous system disorders. The current focus is on using the drug to repair damaged brain cells caused by Alzheimer’s disease. And, if tests on rodent models are anything to go by, this new drug treatment could be transformative.
Unleashes the Body’s Ability to Self-Heal
With a physical injury, such as one to the spinal cord, or inflammation, from a neurodegenerative disease, scar tissue – the glial scar – is formed. While this protects the wound it also traps the nerves so they can’t grow.
Over several decades, key discoveries were made that indicated how the nerve cells could be released from glial scar confinement. This involved a protein constituent of the glial scar called chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan, and its receptor, tyrosine phosphatase sigma (RPTPσ).
NVG-291 is a small protein or peptide that unblocks RPTPσ, freeing the nerve cells to unleash many self-healing mechanisms within the body.
For example, this release allows nerve cells to repair themselves, create new connections (plasticity), improve signalling, and rebuild myelin – the fatty sheath surrounding nerve fibers that enables electrical impulses to travel with ease. Damaged myelin is a feature of multiple sclerosis.
The drug was developed by Jerry Silver, professor of Neurosciences at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.
Dr. Silver is the recipient of several prestigious awards for significant accomplishments involving repair of spinal cord damage and paralysis. He also acts as advisor to NervGen Pharma, a company set up to develop treatments – including NVG-21 – for nerve damage conditions.
Pre-clinical studies in multiple animal models of various diseases and conditions have seen remarkable outcomes.
The drug improved motor function, sensory function, and cognition in these animal studies. For example, animals stricken with nervous system damage experienced improved ability to walk, grasp objects, detect heat, and recall memories after taking NVG-291.
This was particularly the case among animals afflicted with spinal cord injury and multiple sclerosis, which showed “dramatic recoveries.” Dr. Silver said that “NVG-291 has produced unprecedented results.”
Ongoing safety trials in healthy volunteers shows NVG-291 to be well tolerated, and a clinical trial in Alzheimer’s patients is being planned.
The CEO of NervGen, Paul Brennan, is very excited by the potential of this drug.
“What differentiates NVG-291 from other drugs in development is that it leverages multiple mechanisms for repairing nerve damage, while most others focus on a single approach.
“Alzheimer’s disease is a complex condition and likely caused by multiple factors. We believe that a systems approach to treating the disease is an important distinction.
“All told, NVG-291’s ability to remyelinate and enhance plasticity is a one-two knockout punch for repairing a damaged central nervous system, which is the result of a diversity of neurodegenerative diseases, as well as traumatic brain and spinal injuries. NVG-291 could herald a revolutionary new paradigm in treating all of these chronically debilitating conditions.”