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Next step in Alzheimer’s disease treatment

Posted: 29th August 2019

SVI has announced the extension of the research and licensing collaboration agreement with Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc, one of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, with focus on Alzheimer’s disease treatment. The objective of the initiative is to develop and potentially commercialise small molecule modulators of microglial function and inflammation. The collaboration was facilitated by Johnson & Johnson Innovation.

Following the generation of promising data from ongoing SVI research, Janssen has chosen to exercise its option in the 2017 agreement, under which Janssen will be responsible for all future development of small molecule modulators of microglial function and inflammation targeting Alzheimer’s disease severity. What this means is that Janssen’s research will now look at developing new drugs that will target cells in the brain which are able to preserve and protect the function of neurons damaged in Alzheimer's. SVI will be eligible to receive development milestone payments as well as royalties, in addition to the option exercise fee.

SVI’s lead researcher Professor Michael Parker, National Health and Medical Research Fellow and Head of SVI’s Structural Biology Unit, is interested in ‘smart’ approaches to drug design that utilise information about specific protein structures. “Much of our knowledge of disease has come from an improved understanding of the structure and function of proteins. This gives us the best possibility of designing new drugs and treatment strategies for Alzheimer’s Disease,” said Professor Parker.

“We’re encouraged by the drug discovery data achieved in this collaboration with Janssen and hope this research may extend the promise of future therapies for patients with Alzheimer’s disease.”

“I am pleased that the research collaboration undertaken during the past few years between SVI and Janssen has been such a success. As project partners, it is very satisfying to see that the research outcomes have given them the confidence to take the research program further,” said Professor Tom Kay, Director of SVI.

There is an urgent need to develop disease modifying treatments for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, with around 44 million people worldwide currently afflicted by dementia and prevalence expected to triple over the next 40 years as people live longer.

About Alzheimer’s disease:

A degenerative brain condition, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, characterised by memory loss and increasingly impaired cognitive function. It is most commonly diagnosed in people over 65 years of age, although an early-onset variant may occur earlier. In 2017, it is estimated that the costs of dementia in Australia will reach $14.67 billion.

For more information please see: Structural biology