NEW YORK, Jan. 6, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Anavex Life Sciences Corp. ("Anavex" or the "Company") (OTCQX:AVXL) welcomes new data published in the current issue of the International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology (IJNP) revealing that the sigma-1 receptor, the Company's drug target, interacts positively and directly with the cannabinoid receptor. The current scientific findings indicate that sigma-1 receptor modulation may protect against psychosis possibly connected to cannabis (marijuana) abuse, especially among the young, whose nervous systems are still maturing, or individuals with a genetic predisposition, which could potentially lead to schizophrenia.
Given the potential therapeutic benefit of cannabis as well as the increased use of medical marijuana in the general population, these findings highlight the need for a stronger scientific understanding of cannabis or its components in indications such as neuropathic pain and neurological diseases. Understanding cannabinoid receptor modulation will help reduce the potentially negative influence of cannabis. It will also assist with the development of drugs to treat psychosis possibly caused by cannabis.
The data published in IJNP indicates that the sigma-1 receptor acts as a stability system for the interaction of the cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) and the glutamate N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor. The calcium-sensitive sigma-1 receptor appears to function as a safety switch, releasing NMDA receptors (NMDAR) from the influence of cannabinoid receptors and avoiding glutamate hypofunction, a condition commonly found in schizophrenia.
"This study could encourage the exploration of marijuana components in combination with sigma-1 receptor drug candidates in order to understand the potential therapeutic benefit for neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's, schizophrenia and neuropathic pain," said Dr. Chuanhai Cao, Assistant Professor at the University of South Florida (USF) Health Byrd Alzheimer's Institute. Dr. Cao and colleagues recently published a report showing that a compound in marijuana has potential applications in Alzheimer's treatment.
"With Anavex drug candidates targeting the sigma-1 receptor, and with the mechanism of action being further validated, we are even more encouraged to advance our studies with additional neurodegenerative diseases," said Christopher U. Missling, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer of Anavex. "The Company is intrigued to realize the direct link to the body's endocannabinoid system and to proceed with potential studies with our sigma-1 drugs candidates and cannabinoids."
"Our work with the sigma-1 receptor has uncovered relevant aspects of its function in the neuronal plasma membrane as regulator of G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR)-NMDAR cross-regulation. From this point, our research can advance into neuropathic pain, mental illnesses and also certain neurodegenerative diseases in which their genesis or progression requires an altered NMDAR function," said Dr. Javier Garzon, lead researcher of the paper.
The report, entitled "The calcium-sensitive Sigma-1 receptor prevents cannabinoids from provoking glutamate NMDA receptor hypofunction: implications in antinociception and psychotic diseases," was authored by Dr. Javier Garzon and colleagues from Neuropharmacology, Cajal Institute, CSIC in Madrid, Spain and Drug Discovery and Preclinical Development, Esteve, Barcelona, Spain.
About USF Health
USF Health's mission is to envision and implement the future of health. It is the partnership of the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, the College of Nursing, the College of Public Health, the College of Pharmacy, the School of Biomedical Sciences and the School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences; and the USF Physician's Group. The University of South Florida is a Top 50 research university in total research expenditures among both public and private institutions nationwide, according to the National Science Foundation. For more information, visit www.health.usf.edu.
About Anavex Life Sciences Corp.
Anavex Life Sciences Corp. (OTCQX:AVXL) is a publicly traded biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the development of novel drug candidates to treat Alzheimer's disease, other Central Nervous System (CNS) diseases, and various types of cancer. Anavex's lead drug candidates, ANAVEX 2-73 and ANAVEX PLUS, the combination of ANAVEX 2-73 and donepezil (Aricept®), are currently in a Phase 2a clinical trial for Alzheimer's disease. ANAVEX 2-73 is an orally available drug candidate that targets sigma-1 and muscarinic receptors and successfully completed Phase 1 with a clean data profile. Preclinical studies demonstrated its potential to halt and/or reverse the course of Alzheimer's disease. The drug combination ANAVEX PLUS produced up to 80% greater reversal of memory loss in Alzheimer's disease models versus when the drugs were used individually. Further information is available at www.anavex.com.
Statements in this press release that are not strictly historical in nature are forward-looking statements. These statements are only predictions based on current information and expectations and involve a number of risks and uncertainties. Actual events or results may differ materially from those projected in any of such statements due to various factors, including the risks set forth in the Company's most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K filed with the SEC. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date hereof. All forward-looking statements are qualified in their entirety by this cautionary statement and Anavex Life Sciences Corp. undertakes no obligation to revise or update this press release to reflect events or circumstances after the date hereof.
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Source:Anavex Life Sciences Corp.