ACTSI-supported Start-up Update: NeurOp

Created in 2007 as one of a national consortium striving to improve the way biomedical research is conducted across the country, the Atlanta Clinical & Translational Science Institute (ACTSI) works to break down obstacles in the translational science pipeline, from laboratory to patient care. The consortium, funded through the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health’s Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA), shares a common vision to translate laboratory discoveries into treatments for patients, engage communities in clinical research efforts, and train the next generation of clinical investigators.

ACTSI resources offer funding for start-up research projects, better access to analytical tools, and education and training to clinical and translational investigators. ACTSI provides the infrastructure and programmatic foundation to rapidly identify and invest in promising technologies and enhance collaborative opportunities among translational investigators and industry partners. A goal of ACTSI is to catalyze development, validation, and commercialization of translational technologies. Through this mechanism, five companies used ACTSI support to launch and begin reaching patients.

Stephen Traynelis, PhD, professor of pharmacology at Emory University School of Medicine and ACTSI investigator, co-founded the NeurOp Corporation, a preclinical stage pharmaceutical company specializing in the treatment of central nervous system diseases, based in Atlanta, GA. Traynelis’ research focuses on identifying new modulators that can be used to treat neurological diseases, studying glutamate receptors with an emphasis on the structural and functional properties of receptors involved in synaptic transmission. Traynelis received a Pilot Grant from ACTSI in 2008 to study the, Role of NMDA Receptors in Motor Learning in Humans Recovering from Stroke and Brain Injury. “The grant played a part in our program to develop sub-unit selective potentiators of NMDA receptors, and it is this program that is the primary focus of our collaboration with NeurOp. The funds arrived at a critical juncture and allowed us to continue working on the project while we lined up additional funding,” said Traynelis.

The company recently announced that it received a $3.5 million award from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), a division of the NIH, to begin clinical testing of the Company’s drug candidate NP10679, a GluN2B subunit-specific NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) inhibitor. 

The Atlanta Clinical & Translational Science Institute (ACTSI) is a city-wide partnership between Emory University, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Georgia Tech and is one of over 60 in a national consortium striving to improve the way biomedical research is conducted across the country. The ACTSI Pilot Grants program enhances currently available resources from each ACTSI partner by investing in new clinical and translational research paradigms, to encourage young faculty to develop cutting-edge science, and to become the glue that cements investigators and projects across the research consortium.