Shasun and Debiopharm to commercialise Huperzine-A
Shasun Pharmaceuticals and Debiopharm Group have entered into a licensing agreement to manufacture and commercialise the acetylcholinesterase inhibitor “Huperzine-A” (HupA) that has been shown to improve cognitive performance in patients that suffer from Alzheimer?s Disease (AD). According to the deal, Shasun Pharmaceuticals will use Debiopharm Group?s technology to manufacture the technically challenging inhibitor that recently won an Innovation Award due to the complex 10-stage chemical synthesis process required.
What is HupA?
HupA has become an important lead compound for treating AD based on its unique pharmacological activities and low toxicity. The delay between its discovery in the 1980?s and its therapeutic application was derived from the challenging synthesis required to produce the drug. Unlike some compounds that can be harvested from their natural source HupA cannot be derived from its natural source, Huperzia serrata , as the source is very limited, has a low HupA concentration, and is slow growing (it takes 15 years to mature from spore germination stage).
The mechanism of action as an inhibitor is similar to that of current medications such as Donepezil (Aricept) and Rivastigmine (Exelon). The use of HupA as an alternative confers significant benefits compared to available medications due to the reported reduction in side effects. Current treatment side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, anorexia, and abdominal pain, with some patients reporting bradycardia.
Therefore, HupA has the potential to offer a therapeutic treatment for AD whilst improving the quality of life for patients due to the minimal side effects.
Who are involved?
Shasun Pharmaceuticals was incorporated in Chennai, India in 1976, went public in 1994, and now employ over 1800 people. In addition to their Chennai-based research centre, they have API facilities in Cuddalore (India), Puducherry (India), and Dudley (England). As of April 2012, their turnover exceeded $ 183 mn USD.
Debiopharm Group is a family-owned business that was founded in 1979 in Lausanne, Switzerland, and employs over 340 employees. They specialise in development of oncology drugs with co-development in infectious, metabolic, immune-mediated, and neurodegenerative therapeutic areas. In 2010 they were awarded the “Frost and Sullivan European Biopharmaceutical Company of the Year Award”.
– Jonathan Mackinnon