The nervous system is a complex network of nerves and cells that carries messages to and from the brain and spinal cord to various parts of the body to take in sensory information, process information and control movement. Damage to the nervous system can result in disruption to any, or all, of these functions. For a long time, everyone believed the nervous system could not repair itself, but that’s not the case.
At NervGen, we’re changing the way people view nervous system repair. We are developing innovative treatments to enable the nervous system to repair itself following damage, whether due to injury or disease.
NervGen’s lead drug candidate was developed in the laboratory of Dr. Jerry Silver. Dr. Silver is a renowned spinal cord injury and regenerative medicine researcher, and Professor of Neurosciences, at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) in Cleveland, Ohio. Dr. Silver’s research focuses on the glial scar which forms at sites of a physical injury such as spinal cord injury, as well as sites of damage from diseases such as Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis.
The Glial Scar, CSPGs and the receptor PTPσ
A scar forms when there is damage to the nervous system. In the 1990s, Dr. Silver identified a class of molecules called chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans (CSPGs) that are present in these scars and inhibit repair. Then in 2009, Dr. Silver, together with researchers at Harvard University, discovered that CSPGs bind to a cellular receptor called protein tyrosine phosphatase sigma (PTPσ) found in the brain and spinal cord. CSPGs initially help to contain damage, but the interaction of CSPGs and PTPσ in the long term interferes with repair of the nervous system.
In 2015, Dr. Silver and his team at CWRU identified NVG-291-R. Most of the published data related to our technology have been generated using NVG-291-R (also known as ISP). NVG-291-R has been shown to promote nervous system repair and improve functional recovery in preclinical models of nervous system damage and neuroinflammation. A list of select scientific publications that give an overview of the robust effects of NVG-291-R seen in animal models is provided in our list of Journals & Publications.
NervGen’s lead drug candidate is NVG-291, the human analog of NVG-291-R. It is a first-in-class experimental drug administered by injection under the skin. In animal models, NVG-291-R relieves the inhibitory effects of CSPGs and thus NervGen’s lead drug candidate, NVG-291, is expected to enable repair of the nervous system.