The patented solution that we have licensed and will first move to commercialization is an ionic cocrystal of lithium for the treatment of Alzheimer’s and a method of preparation for other pharmaceutical and industrial purposes. Lithium salts have a long history of human consumption beginning in the 1800’s. In psychiatry, they have been used to treat mania and as a prophylactic for depression since the mid-20th century. Today, lithium salts are used as a mood stabilizer for the treatment of bipolar disorder. Although the FDA has approved no medications as safe and effective treatments for suicidality, lithium has proven to be the only drug that consistently reduces suicidality in patients with neuropsychiatric disorders. Despite these effective medicinal uses, current FDA-approved lithium pharmaceutics (lithium carbonate and lithium citrate) are limited by a narrow therapeutic window that requires regular blood monitoring of plasma lithium levels and blood chemistry by a clinician to mitigate adverse events. Because conventional lithium salts (carbonate and citrate) are eliminated relatively quickly, multiple administrations throughout the day are required to safely reach therapeutic plasma concentrations. However, existing lithium drugs such as lithium carbonate and lithium citrate suffer from chronic toxicity, poor physicochemical properties and poor brain bioavailability. Because lithium is so effective at reducing manic episodes in patients with bipolar disorder, it is still used clinically despite its narrow therapeutic index. This has led researchers to begin to look for alternatives to lithium with similar bioactivities.
The inventors from the University of South Florida have developed a new lithium cocrystal composition and method of preparation that allow for lower dosages to achieve therapeutic brain levels of lithium for psychiatric disorders, broadening lithium’s therapeutic index. The compound offers improved physiochemical properties compared to existing forms of lithium, giving it the potential to be developed as an anti-suicidal drug or for use against mood disorders. The formulation method may also be used for commercial/industrial applications such as green chemistry, engineering low density porous materials, pesticides/herbicides, explosives/propellants, and electronic materials.
Recent evidence suggests that lithium may be efficacious for both the treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s. Unlike traditional medications which only address a single therapeutic target, lithium appears to be neuroprotective through several modes of action. For example, it exerts neuroprotective effects, in part, by increasing a brain-derived neurotrophic factor leading to restoration of learning and memory. Another neuroprotective mechanism of lithium is attenuation of the production of inflammatory cytokines like IL-6 and nitric oxide in activated microglia. Moreover, results from recent clinical studies suggest that lithium treatment may reduce dementia development while preserving cognitive function and reducing biomarkers associated with AD.
With this in mind, the team of inventors from the University have specifically designed, synthesized and characterized the novel ionic cocrystal of lithium (known as AL001). AL001 (Formally known as LiProSalTM) has been shown to exhibit improved nonclinical pharmacokinetics compared to current FDA-approved lithium products; it is also bioactive in many in vitro models of Alzheimer’s. AL001 is expected to provide clinicians with a major improvement over current lithium-based treatments and may also constitute a means of treating Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.