Alumnus studies disease treatments

A science entrepreneur who grew up in Summerland is working on treatments for Parkinson’s Disease and Huntington’s Disease.

A science entrepreneur who grew up in Summerland is working on treatments for Parkinson’s Disease and Huntington’s Disease.

Joost Schulte graduated from Summerland Secondary School in 1988 and has since completed a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry and cell biology and a Ph.D. in genetics and neuroscience from the University of British Columbia.

He was a staff scientist at EnVivo Pharmaceuticals in Watertown, Massachusetts for two years, where he was the lead inventor on one of the company’s first patents.

He and Katharine Sepp co-founded Oxalys Pharmaceuticals, based on discoveries they made at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Their work today is on treatments for neurodegenerative disorders such as Huntington’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

Their experimental therapeutic for Huntington’s disease was discovered because of its capacity to stimulate brain cell growth, and survival. In treating Huntington’s disease, this drug could potentially delay disease onset as well as treating symptoms.

“This works in animal models,” he said. “Now we have to show it functions the same way in patients.”

He added that the drug is not a cure for the disease. “The patients will still carry the Huntington’s mutation.”

A Parkinson’s disease treatment in development may also delay disease onset, although more research is still needed.

This drug eliminates toxic proteins that cause the disease. “Preliminary studies are incredibly exciting as they show great promise,” he said.

Since Oxalys Pharmaceuticals works with repurposing existing drugs, the development is much faster than if the drugs are developed from the beginning.

Immediate next steps for Oxalys are to complete a Phase I clinical trial for their Huntington’s therapeutic.

Schulte said it will be the first drug they are bringing to the market and in a best-case scenario it could be on the market in five years although timelines are difficult to predict with certainty.

In addition to the pharmaceutical research, Schulte said part of his work is in raising the necessary funds for the work.

The company has used government research and development grants and private investment money to conduct their product development.

Recently, Oxalys won grants from the Michael J. Fox Foundation and the National Research Council of Canada, as well as an award from the Ontario Brain Institute.

 

 

Just Posted

October power disruptions planned

Summerland to upgrade switches at electrical substation

Student leadership conference hits home

Nearly 500 Grade 5 students taking part in leadership conference in Penticton

Regional district and city hoping to curb bad recycling behaviours

City of Penticton and the RDOS are teaming up to eliminate contaminates

Penticton patient care tower fundraising going strong

About $14.3 million in donations for the Penticton hospital has come in

Exercising her right to fight

Thinking inside the box helped push Geneva Kostashen through cancer treatment

VIDEO: Sears liquidation sales continue across B.C.

Sales are expected to continue into the New Year

Human remains found at Silver Creek property

RCMP have been searching the property in the 2200 block of Salmon River Road for the past three days

New B.C. acute care centre opens for young patients, expectant mothers

Facility aims to make B.C. Children’s Hospital visits more comfortable

Search ramps up for B.C. woman after dog, car found near Ashcroft

Jenny Lynn Larocque’s vehicle and dog were found in Venables Valley, but there is no sign of her

Raven story shines light at Children’s Showcase

Season opener of the Children’s Showcase in Penticton

Okanagan Taste: Snacks and what to pair with them

Your guide to for the go-to snacks and beverage pairings for sports season

Dirty book sale

Penticton Public Library hosting its annual book sale

Police officer hit by car, stabbed in Edmonton attack back on job

Const. Mike Chernyk, 48, returned to work Thursday

UBC medical students learn to care for Indigenous people

Students in health-related studies to take course, workshop to help better serve Aboriginal people

Most Read