Samsara Therapeutics adds eminent neurologist Professor Dame Pamela Shaw to its scientific advisory board to help accelerate ALS/MND treatment development
14th June 2023. Samsara Therapeutics, the autophagy biotech company, has appointed eminent neurologist and world-leading researcher in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)/Motor Neuron Disease (MND) Professor Dame Pamela Shaw to its scientific advisory board. Professor Shaw’s formidable knowledge will help drive the next phase of development of Samsara’s ALS/MND drug candidate SAM001, expediting its journey into the clinic and offering new hope for people with this life-limiting condition.
Professor Shaw says, “Global Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Awareness Day on 21 June provides an important platform to raise awareness of this relentless condition and promote empathy, understanding and support from society. It is also a time for us to recognise and celebrate promising advancements in the development of new medicines for MND. These new avenues hold the promise of improving the quality of life for MND patients, potentially slowing the disease progression, and bringing us closer to a future where MND is no longer a life sentence.”
Professor Shaw’s extensive research in ALS/MND has helped uncover the biological pathways that define the condition, develop novel neuroprotective therapies and shape clinical practice to improve patient experience and outcomes. She will join an already strong panel of distinguished leaders in the areas of neurodegeneration, rare genetic disease, and autophagy biology, advising and driving Samsara forward. The board is headed by Guido Kroemer MD, PhD the company’s scientific co-founder and one of the world’s most cited life scientists.
Samsara Therapeutics focuses on developing drugs for neurodegenerative diseases by specifically targeting the vital cellular self-cleaning process of autophagy that removes waste material, such as the toxic protein deposits implicated in the development of ALS/MND. SAM001 is a once daily, oral treatment that by boosting autophagy has been shown to reduce damage to brain cells taken from people with ALS/MND and even reverse the symptoms of disease in mice1.
‘SAM001, is our most advanced asset now finalising IND-enabling studies for ALS/MND and Parkinson’s. Being able to tap into Professor Shaw’s personal experience in developing therapeutic candidates and working across both academic and clinical environments will be invaluable in effectively and efficiently moving SAM001 through this next phase’, said Peter Hamley, Samsara Therapeutics’ chief scientific officer. ‘Her support will bring us closer to delivering a much-needed disease-modifying treatment with the potential to reduce treatment complexity and improve quality of life for people with ALS/MND’, he continued.
About Professor Dame Pamela J Shaw, DBE, MBBS, MD, FRCP, FMedSci, FAAN, FANA, FAAAS
Dame Pamela Shaw is Professor of Neurology at the University of Sheffield and Director of the Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN), one of the world’s leading centres for ALS/MND research. Her commitment and contribution to the field of ALS/MND research has attracted international attention and she is the recipient of several awards and prizes.
About Samsara Therapeutics
Samsara Therapeutics, based in Oxford, UK, and Boston, USA, is the autophagy company, dedicated completely to harnessing the power of this fundamental biological process to create therapies that reduce the burden of serious age-related disease and extend healthspan. It has a strong pipeline of drug candidates for multiple neurological disorders and other hard-to-treat genetic conditions where there are currently few or no treatment options. Samsara was created in 2018, with an initial investment of $25 million, by Apollo Health Ventures, a venture creation initiative focused on reversing age-related diseases and extending healthy human lifespan.
About Neurodegenerative diseases
Neurological disorders are the leading cause of disability and the second leading cause of death worldwide.[i] It is estimated that 1 in 3 people will develop a neurological disorder at some point in their life.[ii] Most of these age-related neurodegenerative disease are ultimately fatal and have no disease-modifying therapies.[iii]
Dysfunctional autophagy is central to age-related neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, frontotemporal dementia, Huntington’s disease, and ALS/MND. It prevents the body’s cells from effectively eliminating the toxic proteins that build up and contributes to the onset of these diseases.[iv] Evidence suggests that restoring or boosting autophagy could slow or even reverse some of these disease processes.[v]
In the UK ALS is known as the most common form of MND, an umbrella term to cover all forms of the disease.[vi] In the USA, ALS is used as the umbrella term.
ALS/MND causes weakness and wasting in the limbs, muscle stiffness and cramps. Most people are diagnosed between 50 and 70 with men diagnosed almost twice as often as women (this evens out with people who are 70 or older).[vii] ALS/MND kills a third of people within a year and more than half within two years of diagnosis.[viii]
The number of people living with ALS/MND is estimated at:
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[i] Global, regional, and national burden of neurological disorders during 1990-2015: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015. Lancet Neurol. 2017 Nov;16(11):877-897. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5641502/ Last accessed May 2023.
[ii] Launch of first WHO position paper on optimizing brain health across life. World Health Organisation. 9 August 2022. Available at: https://www.who.int/news/item/09-08-2022-launch-of-first-who-position-paper-on-optimizing-brain-health-across-life#:~:text=The%20new%20WHO%20position%20paper,brain%20health%20optimization%20for%20all. Last accessed May 2023.
[iii] Boland B, Yu WH, Corti O, Mollereau B, Henriques A, Bezard E, Pastores GM, Rubinsztein DC, Nixon RA, Duchen MR, Mallucci GR, Kroemer G, Levine B, Eskelinen EL, Mochel F, Spedding M, Louis C, Martin OR, Millan MJ. Promoting the clearance of neurotoxic proteins in neurodegenerative disorders of ageing. Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2018 Sep;17(9):660-688. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30116051/ Last accessed May 2023.
[iv] Boland B, Yu WH, Corti O, Mollereau B, Henriques A, Bezard E, Pastores GM, Rubinsztein DC, Nixon RA, Duchen MR, Mallucci GR, Kroemer G, Levine B, Eskelinen EL, Mochel F, Spedding M, Louis C, Martin OR, Millan MJ. Promoting the clearance of neurotoxic proteins in neurodegenerative disorders of ageing. Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2018 Sep;17(9):660-688. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30116051/ Last accessed May 2023.
[v] Pierzynowska, K., Gaffke, L., Cyske, Z. et al. Autophagy stimulation as a promising approach in treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. Metab Brain Dis 33, 989–1008 (2018). Available at: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11011-018-0214-6#citeas Last accessed May 2023.
[vi] What is MND. Motor Neurone Disease Foundation. Available at: https://www.mndassociation.org/about-mnd/mnd-explained/what-is-mnd Last accessed May 2023.
[vii] An introduction to motor neurone disease. Motor Neurone Disease Foundation. Available at: https://www.mndassociation.org/sites/default/files/2022-09/Introduction-to-MND.pdf Last accessed May 2023.
[viii] Key messages on MND. Motor Neurone Disease Foundation. Available at: https://www.mndassociation.org/sites/default/files/2023-01/mnd-association-key-messages-infographic.pdf Last accessed May 2023.
[ix] What is MND. Motor Neurone Disease Foundation. Available at: https://www.mndassociation.org/about-mnd/mnd-explained/what-is-mnd Last accessed May 2023.