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Development of Novel High Density Aromatic Peptides to treat Glaucoma



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Dr. Alexander Birk presents the Development of Novel High-Density Aromatic Peptides to treat Glaucoma.

Glaucoma is a leading cause of irreversible blindness, affecting 80 million people worldwide. Increases in intraocular pressure (IOP) and progressive degeneration of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) and the optic nerve are the main causes of the disease. Despite many successful approaches to lower intraocular pressure, patients still experience loss of RGCs and optic nerve degeneration.  Mitochondria dysfunction plays the key role in the injury of RGC and the optic nerve in glaucoma. We have identified a set of high-density aromatic peptides (HDAP), that target mitochondria, optimize mitochondrial energy efficiency, and protect RGCs in retinal explants.  These peptides have the potential to treat glaucoma-associated neurodegeneration. 

Dr. Alexander Birk received his B.S in Chemistry at York College, the City University of New York, and his Ph.D. in Pharmacology at Cornell University. He was an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Hepatitis and Viral Research, Drexel University, where, he developed novel cell-permeable RNA-targeted antiviral aminoglycosides, capable of inhibiting replication of Dengue virus, HCV, and several Coronaviruses.  

Assistant Professor of Research at Cornell University. There, he discovered cytochrome c - mediated mechanisms of action of mitochondria-protective aromatic-cationic tetrapeptides, Elamipretide (Bendavia or SS-31), and was fully involved in the preclinical phase of this compound and the planning of Phase I and initial Phase II clinical trials.

Dr. Birk is a co-founder of NeuroEssence, LLC. He actively participated in the development and Phases I, II, III, and IV (marketing phase) of a metabolic-bypass therapy platform to apply mitochondrial metabolism concepts for the optimization of the synthesis of inhibitory neurotransmitters. This concept, through NeuroEssence, LLC.,  is presently used as a nutraceutical formulation for children with autism.

Presently, Assistant Professor at York College, City University of New York, and co-founder of Mitoceuticals, LLC. They focus on developing novel mitochondria-targeted high-density aromatic peptides with mitoprotective properties. This new family compounds have broad clinical application in many mitochondria dysfunction-associated disease.