Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is a form of brain injury in neonates caused by a shortage of blood and oxygen to the brain. Neonatal HIE can have severe consequences; by the age of 2 years, up to 60% of infants with HIE will die or have severe disabilities including mental retardation, epilepsy, and cerebral palsy.
Neonatal hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy has an incidence rate of 1.5 per 1,000 live births worldwide and contributes to asphyxia which is the fifth leading cause of death worldwide in children under 5 years of age. The only available treatment at this point is therapeutic hypothermia, in which a newborn’s body and brain is cooled in order to slow the spread of cell injury and minimize damage. However, this treatment is not satisfactory, which creates a large unmet need for better treatment.
Researchers of the Maastricht University have come up with a new treatment approach which is based on their finding that the integrity of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) is compromised after hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). The endogenous protein Annexin A1 is a key component in that disruption, as it is downregulated after an HIE. The hypothesis is that administration of Annexin A1 to these neonates within 24h will restore the BBB and reduce (long term) brain damage. The treatment would be used on top of hypothermia.
The preclinical proof of concept has been shown in multiple rodent and sheep in vivo models. The lab also has synthesised the protein in-house. Next steps are continuing the preclinical validation including larger hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy animal models in sheep and piglets to be ready to go for an IND/CTA application. A patent is filed and looks favorable to be granted. Next to that, an Orphan Disease Designation will be applied for.
Meet the team
Roland joined NLC in March 2015. He is a trained pharmacist, has worked in several pharmaceutical companies, and has broad experience in marketing and sales functions as well as general management. As Venture Partner, Roland focuses on building innovative companies and strengthening NLC’s abilities to bring innovations to healthcare.