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Development of a Novel, Targeted Small Molecule Inhibitor of the Nucleoside Salvage Pathway to Treat Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis (ADEM)

Award Information
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
Branch: National Institutes of Health
Contract: 1R41AI179191-01
Agency Tracking Number: R41AI179191
Amount: $304,461.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: STTR
Solicitation Topic Code: NIAID
Solicitation Number: PA22-178
Solicitation Year: 2022
Award Year: 2023
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2023-08-01
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2025-07-31
Small Business Information
13451 RAND DR
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
United States
DUNS: 059992210
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 (323) 518-6901
Business Contact
Phone: (323) 518-6901
Research Institution
LOS ANGELES, CA 90095-2000
United States

 Nonprofit College or University

Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) is an acute autoimmune disease that can present with fever and
ataxia as well as loss of consciousness and coma. ADEM largely affects children, is driven by T and B
lymphocytes aberrantly activated against a myelin antigen, and is strongly associated with a prior infection or
immunization. There is no FDA-approved therapy for the treatment of ADEM, and most cases of ADEM are
treated with corticosteroids. Corticosteroids have significant side effects, including behavioral changes,
hypotension, and tachycardia, and fail to address the significant morbidity and mortality associated with ADEM.
Up to 50% of treated ADEM patients fail to fully recover from the disease, and ADEM has a 5 – 10% mortality
rate. Our company, Trethera, has developed a small molecule drug, TRE-515, that has the potential to selectively
block lymphocyte proliferation in ADEM by inhibiting deoxycytidine kinase (dCK), a key enzyme in the
deoxyribonucleoside salvage pathway. Our preliminary studies show in the MOG35-55 experimental autoimmune
encephalomyelitis (EAE) mouse model of ADEM that (i) immune cells activate dCK during disease, (ii) TRE-515
blocks dCK activity in immune cells, (iii) prophylactic or therapeutic TRE-515 treatments block clinical symptoms,
(iv) TRE-515 treatments lead to fewer immune cell infiltrates in the central nervous system, (v) TRE-515 blocks
B and T cell proliferation without affecting other immune cell types including innate immune cells or regulatory T
and B cells, (vi) TRE-515 increases plasma deoxycytidine levels suggesting a potential biomarker for evaluation
of drug-target engagement, (vii) TRE-515 blocks T cell proliferation in culture, and (viii) TRE-515 treatments and
dCK knockout are not associated with significant toxicities. Based on these preclinical studies and due to its
status as a rare disease, the FDA recently awarded TRE-515 Orphan Drug Designation (ODD) for the treatment
of ADEM. This is the first and only time the FDA has awarded an ODD for the treatment of ADEM. Parallel efforts
to develop TRE-515 as a cancer therapy have led to a Phase I clinical trial for solid tumors. Data from the trial
show TRE-515 treatments are associated with mild side effects and show evidence of efficacy. Collectively,
these data strongly suggest that TRE-515 could be an important new therapy for ADEM. In the proposed project,
we will conduct critical preclinical studies to evaluate the effect of TRE-515 on immune cell development and
determine whether TRE-515 can be combined with corticosteroids for the treatment of the MOG35-55 EAE ADEM
mouse model. This work will be critical for moving TRE-515 into the clinic for ADEM patients and for designing
clinical trials with the highest chance of success.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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