Eisai, a pharmaceutical company based in Toyko, and University College London (UCL) have entered into a new agreement to establish a major drug discovery and development collaboration investigating new ways of treating neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and other related disorders.
This will be the first time that joint research is conducted by a partnership involving a public institution in the U.K. and a pharmaceutical company. UCL and Eisai will form a Therapeutic Innovation Group (TIG) that 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. The TIG will also be responsible for the co-development of completely new research areas of interest. A Joint Steering Committee (JSC) will be established to govern the TIG and will be co-chaired by Alan Thompson, a professor at UCL, and Dr. Lynn Kramer, neuroscience unit president at Eisai.
UCL has a wealth of expertise in clinical translation and this collaboration is expected to involve scientists and clinicians at UCL’s new Leonard Wolfson Experimental Neurology Centre in London. An alliance with UCL also forms a major part of Eisai’s Open Innovation initiative to explore external ideas and paths to drug discovery through partnership. Eisai will provide drug discovery and development resources and know-how, assay development capabilities and medicinal chemistry expertise. In addition, Eisai has extensive experience in regulatory and clinical expertise through successful drug launches of neurological medicines. UCL will also receive milestone payments as projects progress and, in addition, royalties on therapies successfully brought to market.
“Neurodegenerative 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 Kramer. “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.”
Sir John Tooke, vice-provost (health) at UCL, said, “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 that 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.”