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Lundbeck partners with Vanderbilt University on schizophrenia research project

Published on 10/01/18 at 10:51am

Danish pharmaceutical firm Lundbeck has signed a separate licensing and research collaboration agreement with Tennessee’s Vanderbilt University to develop a novel solution in the treatment of schizophrenia, it has emerged.

Together with the support of the National Institute of Health’s Mental Health division and The William K Warren Foundation, the Vanderbilt Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery (VCNDD) has developed a number of compounds which act on a receptor in the brain that has been implicated in schizophrenia. As part of the deal, Lundbeck takes exclusive licensed rights to these compounds.

In animal models, the compounds have been shown to block dopamine release in several key regions of the brain via selective activation of a muscarinic acetylcholine receptor, resulting in antipsychotic effects and improved cognitive performance with a low risk of side-effects.

"This is an entirely new approach to treat schizophrenia, and it also is being explored as a potential treatment for behavioural disturbances in Alzheimer's disease and other neuropsychiatric disorders," explained Dr P Jeffrey Conn, founding VCNDD director and the Lee E Limbird Professor of Pharmacology at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

"We are excited to have the opportunity to work with our colleagues at Lundbeck to advance this promising new approach for treatment of a devastating mental illness," Conn added. "Lundbeck has a strong commitment to improving the lives of patients suffering from schizophrenia and has made major investments in fundamentally improving the standard of care for these patients."

Kim Andersen, Senior Vice President of Research at Lundbeck, also commented on the collaboration, saying: "We are impressed with the research and new hypothesis created by Vanderbilt and are excited to collaborate to take this work forward […] Huge unmet medical needs remain within schizophrenia, a debilitating and potentially life threatening disease, and we are hopeful that this may enable us to provide a new treatment that could improve the life of many patients."

The agreement covers an extendable two-year period, and a selected drug candidate is estimated to be ready to enter clinical development by 2020.

Matt Fellows

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