Charles River 'reaffirms' commitment to tough neuroscience beat

Charles River
Charles River Laboratories joins a host of biopharmas in helping boost academic neuroscience work. (Charles River)

Neuroscience, and especially research into Alzheimer’s disease, has yielded nothing but failure from biopharma over the past 15 years. Now, CRO Charles River Laboratories has signed up to a consortium aimed at reversing this poor hit rate.

Charles River said it has been selected by Alzheimer’s UK to join the so-called Dementia Consortium that invests in academic-led research projects, typically around three years in duration, “which aim to provide validation of targets for the treatment of dementia or explore the tractability of the target for drug discovery,” it said.

Already green-lit are projects that work on small-molecule inhibitors of the NLRP3 inflammasome, inhibitors of the interaction between key proteins involved in the proliferation of microglia and the role of immune system regulators and receptors in neurodegeneration.

In a nutshell, the consortium is a charity-industry partnership that hopes to tap into the early science coming out of smaller academic centers and boost its potential with the financial might of the biopharma world.

Charles River said its selection to the consortium “reaffirms" the company's commitment to neuroscience research.

The role will see Charles River scientists work with grant recipients on selected projects, consulting on areas including biological assay development and screening, high-throughput screening and medicinal chemistry.

Charles River’s drug discovery approach will be used with academic investigators to help them work through projects. “Successful projects that generate novel chemistry may then be considered for licensing to industry partners to facilitate the progression of novel treatments into the clinic,” the CRO said in a statement.

Other members include AbbVie, Astex Pharmaceuticals, Eisai, Eli Lilly, MSD, Johnson & Johnson Innovation and Takeda as well as CRO-biotech hybrid Evotec.

“We see an incredible need to research innovative solutions to neurodegenerative diseases. The Dementia Consortium brings together the best minds from academia and industry to progress candidates through the drug discovery and development process. We are proud to be part of the important work they’re doing,” said Birgit Girshick, corporate executive vice president for discovery and safety assessment, biologics testing solutions and avian vaccine services at Charles River.

This comes off a dismal run in Alzheimer’s research in particular and after one of the big remaining hopes in the area represented by two drugs from Biogen and Eisai was thrown on the scrapheap after failing to meet the grade.