Alkahest is a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company targeting neurodegenerative and age-related diseases with transformative therapies derived from a deep understanding of the plasma proteome in aging and disease.
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What Drives Us
Aging is the dominant risk factor in degenerative diseases. Many of the pressing age-related and neurodegenerative diseases have a profound impact on patients and their caregivers, yet have very limited treatment options. Alkahest has embarked upon a simple but elegant approach to treat disorders of aging by capitalizing on the body’s own natural regulatory and communication mechanisms, leveraging the plasma proteome. The promise of this science, and the potential to make a difference to patients around the world, was the founding principle of Alkahest.
Alkahest’s therapeutic agents stem from a deep understanding of the changing plasma proteome in healthy aging and in age-related diseases. As we age, the majority of our proteins stay the same. But about 15% of our proteins change substantially as we age, or as we contend with disease. It’s these proteins, the chronokines, which inspire Alkahest science. By targeting chronokines, we develop clinical candidates that either increase or decrease the levels of circulating chronokines to promote innate and natural restorative biological processes or discourage pathological, degenerative processes in age-related diseases.
Alkahest’s therapeutic approach and rich platform has so far delivered three candidates through discovery and into human clinical trials.
At Alkahest, we are decoding the plasma proteome to discover key proteins that increase or decrease with age, which we call chronokines. We then interrogate the chronokines to find those which act as key checkpoint nodes of biological aging, whether driving beneficial pathways like homeostasis, tissue repair, neural functioning and stem cell regeneration, or those detrimental pathways that cause tissue damage, inflammation, and neurodegeneration.
From those with the most impact on biological function, we create transformative therapies that halt or reverse the harmful effects of aging in critical diseases and alleviate their devastating consequences afflicting patients around the world. Our simple, elegant approach capitalizes on the body’s natural regulatory and communication mechanism: the plasma proteome.
The potential influence of chronokines in diseases of aging has inspired our therapeutic approach, which has so far delivered three candidates into Phase II clinical trials. In preclinical studies, Alkahest scientists demonstrated that our therapeutic targets activate molecular signaling pathways in older animals that include increased tissue regeneration, reduced age-related cognitive impairment, reduced neuroimmune activation, increased memory function. View Our Latest Publications & Events »
Our current clinical trials are testing our therapeutic approaches for a range of age-related medical conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Age-Related Macular Degeneration, post-surgical recovery and others.
Proteomic Discovery: Chronokines
Proteomic exploration has been key to the discovery that our plasma proteome changes with age and disease. We use advanced techniques to find, characterize, and understand chronokines and their biological function. Our arrays, mass spectrometry, mechanistic mapping, and preclinical validation experiments help us isolate chronokines and the function they play. These functions range from regulating protein processing, controlling the immune system, driving degeneration and regeneration, reactivation of stem cell activity and more.
Our proteomic work also helps us narrow down on which chronokines change significantly with either age or disease, and those that serve central checkpoint functions in the biology of aging. The most impactful targets become the inspiration for our therapeutic candidates. We also utilize proteomics to explore samples from our clinical trials, in order to better understand the mechanism of action of our therapeutics and search for biomarkers of relevance to the disease and our drugs.
Our Focus: Critical Diseases of Aging
Between 2010 and 2050, the number of people over 65 globally will triple to more than 1.5B1, growing from 8% to over 15% of the population, going above 20% in many developed nations. This will be an unprecedented challenge for the next generations, with profound social, economic and health impact. In the US over-65 population, 56% of people have 2 or more chronic conditions and this continues to increase with age2, creating an enormous burden on patients, caregivers, and health systems.
From a health perspective, aging is a multifactorial process resulting in the progressive deterioration of biological functional drivers that typically keep organs and tissues healthy. Age is the major risk factor for most of the leading causes of death in the world, including heart disease, cancer, stroke, and dementia. In fact, old age is accompanied by a precipitous decline in brain function, and roughly one-third of individuals 85 years or older suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias.3 And yet today, only 16% of seniors receive regular preventive health screening for problems with memory or thinking.
Current treatments for some of the most serious diseases of aging have been largely unsuccessful in disease modification and typically only provide symptomatic relief. In Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, most pharmaceutical solutions have centered on one of a few targets, such as the beta amyloid pathway in Alzheimer’s. And despite billions of dollars in research and development, there has been a 99.6% failure rate in Alzheimer’s clinical trials in the past decade.5 There is an urgent need for effective solutions to treat the complex pathology of these diseases in the large and growing elderly patient population. We believe that the most effective solutions will address several pathological processes, not only one.