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November 23, 2021

Artizan, Biohaven join forces for Parkinson’s disease fight

PHOTO | CONTRIBUTED Dr. Bridget Martell

Two New Haven-based bioscience companies are collaborating in an effort to find treatments for Parkinson’s disease, a progressive neurological movement disorder.

Artizan Biosciences Inc. and Biohaven Therapeutics Ltd. announced this past week they will be working together in the drug development program.

The companies indicated they will be using recent scientific advances in the understanding of the gut microbiome and its impact on Parkinson’s disease.

Artizan and Biohaven have worked together before, as they announced last March that they were collaborating on treatments for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

The two companies’ latest research program will initially focus on sample collection and identification of microorganisms, or “pathobionts,” which can promote alpha-synuclein pathology, according to an announcement. The companies indicated that this pathology is a hallmark of Parkinson’s disease.

The two companies will then focus on developing novel small-molecule therapeutics aimed at blocking the effects of these harmful microorganisms.

Dr. Bridget Martell, Artizan’s president and CEO, said the company is excited about expanding its collaboration with Biohaven. 

“An increasingly compelling body of evidence suggests the gut-brain axis plays a pivotal role in the development of (Parkinson’s disease), offering the opportunity to pursue this novel treatment strategy,” Martell said.

Artizan’s drug discovery engine identifies and characterizes microbial drivers of disease. Artizan previously created IBD-BIOME, its biobanking program in inflammatory bowel disease, which collected clinical data from over 1,500 patient samples. The program helped identify pathobionts, allowing the company to progress three clinical drug programs aimed at treating IBD. 

Now, for Parkinson’s disease, Artizan will develop a “PD-BIOME” biobanking program, supporting the screening of patient samples and identification of pathobionts and potential therapies.

Biohaven is focused on helping patients with neurological and neuropsychiatric diseases. Its products include the FDA-approved Nurtec ODT, or rimegepant, to treat and prevent migraines.

Dr. Irfan Qureshi, vice president of neurology at Biohaven, said the two companies’ combined efforts will provide a “unique opportunity to develop cutting-edge therapeutics for (Parkinson’s disease.)”

“We look forward to broadening our partnership with Artizan and enhancing our early stage pipeline,”  Qureshi said. “The microbiome is at the nexus of immunity, inflammation, metabolism, and brain-systemic communication, which are all deregulated in Parkinson’s disease.”

Contact Michelle Tuccitto Sullo at

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