Teva teams up with University College London for brain imaging study

Teva CSO Michael Hayden

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries ($TEVA) has been taking a deeper dive into med tech this past year, teaming up with industry heavyweight Royal Philips ($PHG) to open a new med tech incubator in Israel. Now the Israeli pharma is forging ahead with another tech initiative, teaming up with University College London (UCL) for a brain-imaging study to uncover biomarkers for neurodegenerative disease.

The two-year study, dubbed The Pilot Longitudinal Study in Alzheimer's Disease of Central Markers of Microglial Activation (PADMMA), will include 20 patients and will use PET imaging to look at microglia cells in the central nervous system. The cells are thought to play a role in brain inflammation, and so identifying biomarkers for microglial activation and watching how the cells change over time could help scientists create better diagnostic and therapeutic targets for neurodegenerative disease.

"The focus on microglial activation heralds a new therapeutic area of interest for most neurodegenerative diseases, potentially with very high impact on disease modification therapies," Teva CSO Dr. Michael Hayden said in a statement. "The PADMMA study has clear translational value."

Research will be carried out at UCL's Dementia Research Centre and led by Dr. Catch Mummery, a consultant neurologist and clinical lead at the center's Cognitive Disorders Clinic. The study is supported through collaboration between Teva, UCL and imaging company Imanova at the UK Israel Tech Hub at the British Embassy in Israel, as the three "come together in an effort to change the paradigm in neurodegenerative disease," Teva said in a statement.

Teva is no stranger to med tech partnering. Earlier this year, the company and Philips kicked off operations for their new med tech incubator in Israel called Sanara Ventures. The incubator is backed by Israel's Office of the Chief Scientists of the Ministry of the Economy, and Philips and Teva each pledged to invest up to 100 million shekels ($25.7 million) over the next 8 years into early-stage healthcare companies creating medical devices and technologies that spur drug development.

The companies have already made a handful of investments as of July, sinking funds into startups including Kaleidoscope Medical, which is developing a system for X-ray radiation shielding during catheterization; and MGD, which is rolling out a portable device for measuring lung function in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

- read the statement