NeuroNEXT adds med schools to its national CNS clinical trial network

The medical schools at Columbia University and Weill Cornell have signed on with an ambitious NIH-backed effort that has been crafting a national support system for investigators pursuing mid-stage studies for neuroscience treatments.

The National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke recently announced plans to launch the first of the studies through the National Network for Excellence in Neuroscience Clinical Trials (NeuroNEXT), which promises to streamline some of the biggest challenges in conducting a clinical trial for experimental drugs for neurological conditions. Investigators at Columbia and Weill Cornell will now add their expertise, joining a network of academic groups that is building a clinical research infrastructure with a single review board and data system that can be shared by all.

"NeuroNEXT promises to be revolutionary. Since investigators spend a great deal of time and effort designing clinical trials and recruiting patients, having an infrastructure in place that can readily support these activities will make all the difference in the world," said Dr. Karen Marder, co-principal investigator of the Columbia-Weill Cornell NeuroNEXT site at New York-Presbyterian.

The network is being constructed at a time when many Big Pharma companies have been shedding programs for neurological conditions. AstraZeneca ($AZN) recently cut back, announcing plans to reduce its effort on CNS treatments to a virtual operation in Cambridge, MA. GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) helped trigger the trend with its decision to bail out, daunted by high costs and an extraordinarily high risk of failure. NeuroNEXT will open its doors to all comers, from academia to the biopharma industry.

"We especially hope to involve young investigators who have a fantastic idea for a study but who may or may not know much about how to design or run a clinical trial," said Claudia Chiriboga, a co-principal investigator of the Columbia-Weill Cornell NeuroNEXT site. "Using the expertise at our site and in the NeuroNEXT network, we can mentor these researchers and guide them through the grant proposal and trial-design process."

- here's the press release