New Partnership Targets Brain Conditions

By Josh Baxt
January 18, 2011

Sanford-Burnham has been conducting cutting-edge research on neurological and neuropsychiatric conditions for many years and recently that research received a big boost. The Institute announced a collaboration with Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., (OMJPI), a division of Johnson & Johnson, to discover new drugs to treat Alzheimer’s diseaseand major psychiatric disorders.Under the agreement, Sanford-Burnham will look for new therapeutic targets for Alzheimer’s disease and neuropsychiatric conditions. Then, the Conrad Prebys Center for Chemical Genomics (Prebys Center) will identify chemical compounds that therapeutically alter those targets. These compounds will then be optimized and directed into OMJPI’s drug pipeline.

 For Sanford-Burnham, this collaboration with a major pharmaceutical company will help the Institute achieve its mission of translating high-impact science into important new therapies.  “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, CEO of Sanford-Burnham.

The Prebys Center is Sanford-Burnham’s state-of-the-art screening facility. Established by the National Institutes of Health as part of a national effort to accelerate the translation of basic research into new therapies, the Center generates small molecule probes that can be used to develop a pipeline of drugs. The Center’s staff works closely with Sanford-Burnham investigators and industry collaborators to help them translate their scientific findings into projects for new drug discovery.

“This agreement sets the stage for Sanford-Burnham to fully leverage the drug discovery infrastructure the Institute has put into place over the last five years,” said Dr. Michael Jackson, vice president, Drug Discovery and Development.

Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, the ability to carry out the simplest tasks. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are 5.3 million in the U.S. with the disease. While four drugs that temporarily improve cognitive function in Alzheimer’s patients are on the market, currently, there are no treatments that stop the diseases’ progression.

Major psychiatric disorders, such as bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder and schizophrenia often begin in adolescence or early adulthood and impair overall health as well as the ability to learn, work and function. According to the National Institute of Mental Health 2.3 million adult Americans suffer from bipolar disorder, a condition associated with profound mood alterations.

Read more about this new collaboration at the San Diego Union- Tribune, NBC 7/39 News and the Orlando Sentinel.


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Josh Baxt

Josh was an SBP Communications staff member.


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