Laboratory studies demonstrate that OP-1 promotes the growth of dendrites, which form the synaptic connections between neurons in the brain. A damaged neuron treated with OP-1shows substantial new dendrite formation.
The first neurological disease therapy under development at the Company is for the treatment of stroke. Stroke is a physical or mental impairment caused by damage to the brain, usually resulting from an arterial blockage or intracranial bleeding. Approximately 550,000 Americans suffer strokes every year, making it the third leading cause of death.
Studies conducted by Company researchers and their collaborators, presented at the Society for Neuroscience 1997 Annual Meeting in October, demonstrated that administration of OP-1 in animal models of stroke enhanced the recovery of motor function. This effect may result from the distinct ability of this protein to stimulate the growth of dendrites, which form synaptic connections between neurons in the brain.
The potential to repair neuronal damage represents a new paradigm for stroke therapy. The approach may offer clinical advantages over current therapies, which are intended to limit the damage from the stroke and must be administered within a few hours after the stroke. Results of the preclinical studies using OP-1 indicate that a single injection administered a full 24 hours after the stroke promoted recovery.
The ability of OP-1 and other morphogenic proteins to repair neuronal damage may provide additional disease targets for the Companys drug development activities. Chronic neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinsons disease and Alzheimers disease may result from damage to normal neuronal biology, including the failure to maintain normal, healthy dendrites and other structures. The Company is actively researching the potential for improving treatment of these diseases using this approach.