CLR01 protects dopaminergic neurons in vitro and in mouse models of Parkinson's disease.
Bengoa-Vergniory N., Faggiani E., Ramos-Gonzalez P., Kirkiz E., Connor-Robson N., Brown LV., Siddique I., Li Z., Vingill S., Cioroch M., Cavaliere F., Threlfell S., Roberts B., Schrader T., Klärner F-G., Cragg S., Dehay B., Bitan G., Matute C., Bezard E., Wade-Martins R.
Parkinson's disease (PD) affects millions of patients worldwide and is characterized by alpha-synuclein aggregation in dopamine neurons. Molecular tweezers have shown high potential as anti-aggregation agents targeting positively charged residues of proteins undergoing amyloidogenic processes. Here we report that the molecular tweezer CLR01 decreased aggregation and toxicity in induced pluripotent stem cell-derived dopaminergic cultures treated with PD brain protein extracts. In microfluidic devices CLR01 reduced alpha-synuclein aggregation in cell somas when axonal terminals were exposed to alpha-synuclein oligomers. We then tested CLR01 in vivo in a humanized alpha-synuclein overexpressing mouse model; mice treated at 12 months of age when motor defects are mild exhibited an improvement in motor defects and a decreased oligomeric alpha-synuclein burden. Finally, CLR01 reduced alpha-synuclein-associated pathology in mice injected with alpha-synuclein aggregates into the striatum or substantia nigra. Taken together, these results highlight CLR01 as a disease-modifying therapy for PD and support further clinical investigation.