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Blast Wave Vision Loss Protection With MP-201 Exploratory Research Awarded to Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Collaboration with Mitochon Pharmaceuticals

Blue Bell, Pennsylvania.

Blast-Induced Neurotrauma Branch of the Center for Military Psychiatry and Neuroscience at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) in Silver Spring, MD, entered a 4-year collaboration with Mitochon Pharmaceuticals to explore neuroprotection by MP-201 in repetitive blast wave models. The $2.3M grant from Military Operational Medicine Research Program entitled “MP201 therapy against blast-induced ocular dysfunction” is intended to close the gap of a safe and effective countermeasure for Warfighters exposed to blast waves causing ocular injuries that cascade into either vision loss or visual impairment. MP-201 is an oral small molecule brain penetrating platform that specifically targets the mitochondria to reduce brain damage by quieting overt stress in many forms of trauma (blunt, blast and noise). Dr. Joseph Long, Ph.D., chief of WRAIR trauma center says “Although personnel are issued PPE, including protective goggles, with or without compliance issues, there is nevertheless a potential shock wave penetration to the face and body that can result in injuries to the eyes, lungs, ears, and brain that may lead into injuries, impaired performance, and potentially lifelong residual impairments. MP-201 is a promising platform to potentially address many of these traumatic injuries collectively since they are rooted in mitochondrial dysfunction, but here we are focused on applications for vision”. Repetitive mild blast wave is routinely experienced by soldiers throwing a hand grenade, breaching a wall, or pulling the trigger on a howitzer.

“MP-201, developed at Mitochon Pharmaceuticals, to be tested in the proposed study, will be a promising candidate to prevent the mitochondrial dysfunction which might be occurring in the ocular system after blast exposure. If the topical administration of MP-201 as eye drops show efficacy against blast-induced ocular dysfunctions, it will be a significant advantage for the victims at the point of injury”, says Dr. John Geisler, Ph.D./ CSO Mitochon Pharmaceuticals. Lead scientist Dr. Arun Peethambaran, Ph.D. adds, “The emerging importance of addressing mitochondrial dysfunction is critical for optimal outcomes to our military because, mitochondrial dysfunction plays a major role in the pathogenesis of injuries to the brain and neurosensory system. MP-201 specifically improves mitochondrial dysfunction by altering the physiology of the entire organelle rapidly in lowering damage (free radicals and calcium overload), but also promoting repair by induction of neurotropic factors (BDNF)”. MP-201 was previously show to be protective for hearing loss in a noise induced trauma model and protective from optic neuritis vision loss.

MP-101 and MP-201 are mitochondrial targeted, once-a-day, oral brain penetrating therapies that have been shown to shield cells from damage caused by a host of degenerative processes, including traumatic injury. In preclinical studies, these compounds have exhibited striking pan-neuroprotective and functional benefits in disease models, such as: brain volume loss in Huntington’s Disease; axonal protection from demyelination in Multiple Sclerosis, preserving the neuromuscular junction and motor skills in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, blocking the loss of dopaminergic neurons in Parkinson’s and glial activation, preserving short-term memory and accelerated learning in Alzheimer’s, and preserving neurons in the cortex after blunt trauma. MP-201 is a slower release prodrug of MP-101, which has an open IND and clinical programs focused on ALS, MS and HD treatments. Mechanism of Action is discussed here on TBI.

About Mitochon Pharmaceuticals
Mitochon was founded in 2014 with the mission to develop treatments for insidious diseases through the modulation of mitochondrial physiology, with applications to neurodegeneration, neuromuscular, and developmental diseases. Mitochon’s lead programs, MP101 and MP201, specifically harnesses the power of the mitochondria to provide broad neural protection. These compounds elicit mild increases in energy expenditure that result in strengthening cellular survival—similar to the positive effects seen with fasting and exercise. These compounds also induce an important neurotrophin, Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), involved in cognition and neural growth. Mitochon is supported by Ben Franklin Technology Partners Southeastern PA, an initiative of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development funded by the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority.