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Eisai pharmaceuticals and UCL form drug discovery alliance

13 December 2012

UCL and the Japanese pharmaceutical company Eisai, have entered into a new agreement to establish a major drug discovery and development collaboration today.

The alliance will involve researchers from both organisations working together to investigate radical new ways of treating neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other related disorders.

The goal of the collaboration will be to identify and validate novel drug targets, develop new therapeutics and evaluate them in proof-of-concept clinical trials.

UCL and Eisai will form a Therapeutic Innovation Group (TIG) which will comprise experienced scientists from both UCL and Eisai with the principal function of facilitating and coordinating the discovery and assessment of emerging therapeutic targets involved in neurological diseases.

Research is expected to be carried out at UCL’s new Leonard Wolfson Experimental Neurology Centre, while Eisai will provide drug discovery and development resource and know-how, assay development capabilities and medicinal chemistry expertise. If successful, UCL will also receive milestone and royalty payments on therapies brought to market through the collaboration.

“Neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease represent a significant unmet medical need due to lack of effective treatments that can prevent disease progression,” said Dr Lynn Kramer, President of the Eisai Neuroscience Product Creation Unit.

“UCL’s is a world-class academic institution with specialised research capabilities and we expect this exciting partnership to be very successful. In this unique collaboration, we hope our complementary expertise will identify potential new drug targets that we can bring to market and make available to patients that need it the most,” she added.

Professor Sir John Tooke, Vice Provost for Health at UCL, was optimistic about the future possibilities of the partnership. “This is a genuinely new way of collaborating on pharmaceutical research for UCL, with exciting implications for research with the potential to lead to step changes in the treatment of diseases which affect the nervous system, such as Alzheimer’s.

“It will already build on many years of close working and collaboration with Eisai, which I am confident will lead to the development of much-needed, new effective therapeutic agents.”

Professor Alan Thompson, Dean of the Faculty of Brain Sciences and who was instrumental in bringing the agreement to fruition, echoed Professor Sir John Tooke’s thoughts.

"This is a unique and innovative partnership which we have taken care and time to establish such that it will provide a truly enabling platform for joint working. I am sure that this model will be seen as an exemplar and will be highly productive going forward."

Professor Stephen Caddick, Vice-Provost (Enterprise) at UCL, praised the partnership as an example of how innovative working between universities and private enterprise can reap important benefits.

“UCL is committed to working with partners who have a shared vision to translate research findings into products which will have a tangible, positive impact on society,” he said. “This strategic alliance between UCL and Eisai combines research excellence, clinical insight and commercial expertise which will undoubtedly improve prospects for development of new treatments for patient benefits.”