News from the 31st annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego:

¿ AGY Therapeutics Inc., of South San Francisco, said research using its imAGYne research platform resulted in the identification and validation of specific genes that protect and damage brain tissue following a stroke, discoveries that could lead to novel therapies for this condition. Researchers at AGY and the Wallenberg Neuroscience Center in Lund, Sweden, completed a broad genomic analysis of models of stroke, and by an array of computational, as well as molecular techniques, focused on 40 genes that play a role in stroke-induced neuronal damage. Separately, AGY released study results that demonstrate for the first time that RNA interference, a technique for silencing genes, was shown to successfully block neuronal gene expression in mammalian cells. The company said this will provide opportunities for greater analysis of gene function and development of gene-specific therapeutics related to stroke and other central nervous system diseases.

¿ Axonyx Inc., of New York, released the findings of a paper titled ¿Beta-Sheet Breaker Peptide Reduces Amyloid Load and Cerebral Damage in an Alzheimer¿s Transgenic Animal Model.¿ A subsidiary of Serono SA, of Geneva, licensed the beta-sheet breaker technology from Axonyx in May 1999. A scientist at the Serono Pharmaceutical Research Institute in Switzerland presented data that revealed that these beta-sheet breaker compounds reduced amyloid plaques by about 50, as well as nerve cell death in a transgenic animal model of Alzheimer¿s disease.

¿ NeoTherapeutics Inc., of Irvine, Calif., presented data showing that its lead neurology compound, Neotrofin, prevented sensory nerve dysfunction in a rat model of diabetic neuropathy. The study is one of several conducted by independent research laboratories demonstrating that Neotrofin has an effect in treating peripheral neuropathies in animal models, the company said. Phase II studies of chemotherapy-induced neuropathy are expected to start before the end of the year.

¿ Palatin Technologies Inc., of Princeton, N.J., presented data from ongoing studies related to the development of PT-141, its investigational drug for treating sexual dysfunction. The results confirm that one of the five subtypes of melanocortin receptors has specific involvement in control of penile erection. Palatin said the data clearly showed that activation of melanocortin receptor subtype MC4 causes penile erection. The company created the drug using its Midas platform technology, which enables rapid structure-based design of compounds as either agonists or antagonists of biological responses at a specific cellular receptor.