All in the family
PTEN induced putative kinase 1 is a tantalizing player in familial forms of Parkinson's disease, in which it is inactivated by mutation, but thus far the kinase has been a no-fly zone for drug development because of challenges in activating kinases. Mitokinin LLC thinks it finally has an angle to modulate the kinase after the company's cofounders identified an ATP analog that selectively activates the target.1
The company plans to develop the analog or optimized variants to treat PD.
Mitochondria are particularly important for cells such as neurons that have a high demand for energy. Defects in mitochondrial quality control have been implicated in neurodegenerative conditions such as PD largely based on genetic mutations associated with familial, early onset forms of the disease.2,3
In particular, there have been multiple associations between disease and mutations that disrupt a process called mitophagy, or the ability of damaged mitochondria to self-destruct. Mitophagy is a cellular quality control mechanism that selectively eliminates the