A novel pharmaceutical therapy for neurological disorders including stroke and Alzheimer’s disease has been introduced by BGN Technologies, the technology-transfer company of Ben-Gurion University (BGU) of the Negev.

The therapy combines two FDA-approved drugs that protect the blood-brain barrier, therefore preventing the development of various neurological conditions.

The blood-brain barrier (BBB) normally allows only selected molecules from the circulatory system to enter the brain. If the BBB is not functioning well, neurotoxic blood products can enter the brain and cause damage. BBB malfunction is a major factor in neurological diseases including stroke, neurodegenerative diseases, brain tumors and brain infections.

Currently, the ability to treat such conditions is limited, and is usually initiated only after symptoms are apparent and brain damage is substantial.

BGU Prof. Alon Friedman has invented a new treatment to prevent neurological diseases. Photo courtesy of Dr. Merav Shamir

Prof. Alon Friedman and his group at the BGU Faculty of Health Sciences discovered that treating the BBB at early stages can protect the brain and prevent disease development. Their new treatment combines Memantine and Losartan, which have been shown in preclinical studies to protect the integrity of the BBB when administered together.

The Israeli research team also developed a diagnostic tool based on permeability analysis, enabling early diagnosis and thus early treatment.

“The role of the BBB in disease and in aging is being increasingly understood, and the rationale for using the novel combination therapy invented by Prof. Friedman is relevant for many CNS [central nervous system] indications including stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, traumatic brain injury, postoperative and post-radiation cognitive decline, age-related macular degeneration, ALS, migraine, and others,” said Dr. Ora Horovitz, Senior VP Business Development at BGN Technologies.

“Both drugs are already approved for other indications with a validated activity, and we are currently looking for partners for the further development of this promising combination therapy.”