Scripps, Takeda renew pact to find CNS treatments

In a push to find new targets for central nervous system diseases, which have proved complex to treat, The Scripps Research Institute and Takeda Pharmaceuticals are expanding their research collaboration.

The new agreement builds on an already existing collaboration launched in July 2010 between scientists at Scripps' Jupiter, FL, campus and Envoy Therapeutics to develop new drugs for Parkinson's disease. Later that year in October, Envoy and Scripps said they would expand their partnership to include three new drug-discovery programs focused on brain diseases. The collaboration between and Envoy and Scripps, which has another lab in La Jolla, CA, led to several breakthroughs in identifying potential new compounds for neurological and psychiatric diseases, including the Parkinson's drug levodopa. In November last year, Envoy was acquired by Takeda.

Peter Hodder, senior scientific director for the Translational Research Institute at Scripps Florida, told FierceBiotechResearch that there is "significant and immediate additional funding associated with the extension of this collaboration" but didn't name a dollar amount.

Research efforts into brain diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's have largely been fruitless for Big Pharma thus far, and as many pharma companies make cuts to their R&D departments, more companies are seeking out partnerships with academic and nonprofit research institutions. 

"I have seen a definite uptick in industry-sponsored collaborations with my lab at Scripps, especially in the past few years," Hodder said. He added that more of these academic-industry partnerships may be going on than are publicized because of competitive reasons.

Scripps Florida's high-throughput screening facility has the ability to rapidly test more than 650,000 druglike compounds for pharmacologic activity, making the collaboration a good fit for Takeda, which has talked about pumping up its R&D efforts in 2013.

- here's the press release
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