Case study

Preclinical Development of VSN16R: A Potential Treatment for Muscle Spasticity

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Canbex Therapeutics Ltd is a spinout company from UCL focused on developing a new treatment for spasticity in multiple sclerosis. The lead compound VSN16R, developed in the lab of Professor David Selwood, is a novel, orally active small molecule that is effective against spasticity in the EAE mouse model of multiple sclerosis and substantially more tolerable than existing agents, which is a key competitive advantage. Ongoing work is being performed in the labs of Professor Selwood at UCL and Professor David Backer at Queen Mary, University of London, both of whom are Directors of Canbex.


Multiple sclerosis is a progressive and debilitating chronic disease that represents a major pharmaceutical market, with projected global sales of MS biologics reaching $8.8 billion in 2008 (source: reported company sales). Most MS patients experience spasticity (the uncontrolled movement of limb and other musculature) and treatment options are poor. Spasticity interferes with daily activities such as walking, it can cause serious joint damage, and in the severest cases is completely disabling.


Key points of VSN16R include:


•           Efficacy without dizziness or flaccidity

•           Orally active

•           Good safety and selectivity profile, no hERG signal, no significant haemodynamic effects

•           Low manufacturing cost

•           Non-immunosuppressive


Canbex has received funding from Fast Forward, the investment arm of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society of the US, and the Wellcome Trust to develop VSN16R through the preclinical toxicology studies and a Phase 1 first-in-man clinical trial. Canbex plans to be in the clinic in late 2012 and, following the Phase 1 clinical trial, aims to license the programme to a pharmaceutical company in order to bring this novel and exciting treatment to market.


Dr Abbie Watts of UCLB works closely with Professor Selwood and his team. Dr Watts is the UCLB-nominated Director on the board of Canbex.




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