Dr. Don Weaver’s promising new Alzheimer drugs
Neurologist and chemist Dr. Don Weaver is closer than ever to his goal of developing an effective anti-Alzheimer drug. A pioneer in the field of computer-aided drug design, Dr. Weaver and his colleagues have created 3-D computer models of key Alzheimer drug targets and developed a library of more than 11 million compounds to test on these receptors.
“We have screened millions of these compounds on computer and identified dozens that bind with the receptors,” says Dr. Weaver, who holds a Canada Research Chair in Neuroscience at Dalhousie University. “Better yet, several of these compounds produced dramatic memory improvements in animal studies at Columbia University.”
Dr. Weaver has now joined forces with Dalhousie colleagues and pharmaceutical industry veterans to launch Treventis Corporation. The name, he explains, is a hybrid of ‘treatment’ and ‘prevention.’ Chemists in the company’s Halifax laboratory are synthesizing the most promising computer-designed virtual drugs into real-world compounds, to be tested in Petri dishes, animal models and, ultimately, human clinical trials. The new company’s head office is located in Philadelphia, close to sources of capital investment.
“At Treventis, we’re taking the unique approach of developing drugs that are designed to target more than one Alzheimer receptor at a time,” Dr. Weaver notes. “Drugs targeted solely at the well-known beta amyloid receptor have proven unsuccessful in human trials, so we are widening the net. Our aim is to design drugs that will not only halt the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, but will actually improve people’s cognitive function.”
Since 2009, Dr. Weaver’s groundbreaking work has earned him the Prix Galien Canada award (the Nobel Prize of the pharmaceutical industry), a Killam Fellowship from the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Bantrel Award from the Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering.