Accera, a privately-held, commercial-stage healthcare company focused on clinical applications to address acute and chronic neurodegenerative diseases, has formed a collaboration with the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine to study the effects of Accera's medical food, Axona, on cognitive impairment in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS).
Axona is a prescription medical food intended for the clinical dietary management of the metabolic processes associated with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease (AD). Drs. Melissa Ortega and Heather Katzen, two researchers at the Miller School, will serve as the primary investigators of the study. The project will be funded by Fast Forward, a nonprofit organization established by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Axona, made from special fats, produces ketones, which can provide an alternative energy source for brain cells. While typically the human brain relies on glucose as an energy source, research shows that individuals with AD fail to metabolize glucose properly. The decrease in glucose use correlates with cognitive impairment associated with the disease. In clinical trials, Axona was associated with cognitive improvement in people with mild to moderate AD.
Previous research suggests there may also be flaws in how glucose is metabolized in the brains of individuals with MS. The notion that these metabolic abnormalities may be contributing to cognitive dysfunction in MS is what led Ortega, a neurologist who specializes in MS, to consider whether Axona may provide a therapeutic strategy to treat MS-related cognitive problems. To investigate whether Axona can help restore cognitive function in MS patients, this double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study will enroll 158 MS patients at the UM Miller School of Medicine MS Center over the next three years who have experienced cognitive problems.
"We are very excited about this project," said Holger Kunze, CEO of Accera. "This collaboration fits well with Accera's mission to help patients with neurological disorders by addressing metabolic deficiencies common in these disease states."