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Elan launches neuroscience research centre with Cambridge University

Says UK venture could lead to a therapeutic class 'no one has thought possible before'

Irish biotech Elan has signed a 10-year research deal with Cambridge University to investigate potential new treatments for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.

Elan said the Cambridge-Elan Centre for Research Innovation and Drug Discovery had the potential to discover an entirely new class of neuroscience drugs.

Based at the UK university's campus, it will combine Elan's biology, model systems and Alzheimer's research experience along with University of Cambridge's pioneering contributions to the development of biophysical approaches to study the molecular basis of protein misfolding and aggregation, and their links to disease.

Dale Schenk, executive vice president and chief scientific officer at Elan, said: “This collaborative effort complements our portfolio of programmes in neuroscience and supports the process of discovery, which we believe may lead to a class of therapeutics that no one has thought possible before.”

Professor Christopher Dobson, the John Humphrey Plummer Professor of Chemical and Structural Biology at the University of Cambridge and Master of St John's College, said: “I believe that we are creating a Centre that will become globally recognised for innovation.

“Our collective expertise, proven ability to collaborate, and open innovation model provide an exciting basis for the future. The new Centre will bring together the skills of scientists working in an academic institution and in a biotechnology company to develop new and more effective therapies for some of the most devastating and increasingly common human diseases.”

The goal of the Cambridge-Elan Centre is to discover novel compounds capable of altering the behaviour of proteins associated with neurodegenerative disorders that can be developed into new treatments.

The partners said that by combining their strengths, the Cambridge-Elan Centre would enable them to explore novel approaches to improve the understanding of biophysical and biochemical aspects of protein folding and misfolding, and to explore unique approaches to modulate these processes in an effort to discover new therapeutics.

28th November 2011

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