J&J teams up with Sanford-Burnham on Alzheimer's pact

The drug development arm of Johnson & Johnson is joining research forces with scientists at the prestigious Sanford-Burnham Institute in an effort to blaze a relatively short path to new drugs for psychiatric disorders as well as Alzheimer's. And the collaboration--the latest in a string of R&D pacts that have been struck between pharma companies and academic groups--could reportedly be worth more than $85 million to the research institute.

A team of investigators from Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals will use the institute's advanced screening system to pinpoint new molecules for aging and neuroscience. And the head of Sanford-Burnham tells the Orlando Sentinel that he expects to see more of these translational science pacts as developers undertake new efforts to cut the massive commitment of time and money now needed to advance a new drug to the FDA.

"This represents the first of what we expect to be a series of thematic collaborations that focus our tremendous scientific and translational firepower on major unmet medical problems. Working in concert with strong partners, we can bridge the gap between early- and late-stage drug development," said Dr. John Reed, chief executive officer of Sanford-Burnham.

These kinds of academic-industry partnerships are all the rage these days. Pfizer's $85 million pact with UC San Francisco helped underscore the trend, as big outfits look for expert help in moving more rapidly through early-stage research. Sanofi and Harvard announced a pact late last year.

- check out the story from the Orlando Sentinel
- and see the San Diego Union-Tribune report