Cop-1 neuroprotective vaccine
During the last several years, Prof. Michal Schwartz has shown that the immune system has the capacity to protect the CNS from nerve degeneration, a concept described as "protective autoimmunity". According to this concept, insult to the CNS triggers an autoimmune response directed against proteins residing in the lesion site. T cells homing to the lesion site are activated by cells presenting the relevant antigen. Once activated, they augment and control local immune cells, allowing efficient removal of toxic compounds and tissue debris, thus protecting the damaged nerves from further degeneration. Prof. Schwartz has shown that a synthetic compound called Cop-1 (Copolymer-1) has the potential to boost the protective autoimmunity.
It has been shown that Cop-1 acts as a low-affinity antigen that activates a wide range of self-reacting T cells, resulting in neuroprotective autoimmunity that is safe and effective against both CNS white matter and grey matter degeneration. The neuroprotective effect of Cop-1 vaccination was demonstrated in preclinical models of acute and chronic neurological disorders such as optic nerve injury, head trauma, glaucoma, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, and Huntington's disease.
Cop-1 is a random oligopeptide composed of L-Tyrosine, L-Glutamate, L-Lysine and L-Alanine residues. The compound was invented at the Weizmann Institute of Science about thirty years ago, and subsequently licensed to Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (Teva) for the treatment of Multiple Sclerosis. Teva's drug, Copaxone®, was approved by the FDA several years ago and has since been used safely and successfully. Proneuron holds the license to develop and commercialize Cop-1 as a therapy for all other neurodegenerative disorders.
Under a collaboration agreement with Teva from 2001 and its 2003 expansion, Cop-1 is being developed as a therapy for additional neurodegenerative conditions. Under this collaboration, a joint project is in progress to use Cop-1 for Huntington’s disease and for the attenuation of the progressive optic nerve and retinal degeneration that causes visual field loss and eventually blindness in glaucoma patients. Cop-1 is expected to enter Phase II clinical trials in the near future for both these indications.