Elan, University of Cambridge Launch New Research Center

Dec 01, 2011

Elan and the University of Cambridge have launched a center for innovation and drug discovery that will focus on translational research into therapies for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. The Cambridge–Elan Center will be located at the University of Cambridge, and the agreement between the two will last for 10 years. Its goal is to discover novel compounds that can alter the behavior of proteins associated with neurodegenerative disorders and be developed into new treatments.

“This agreement is a natural next step in the existing working relationship between our scientists in South San Francisco and scientists at the University of Cambridge,” said Dale Schenk, executive vice-president and chief scientific officer at Elan, in a press statement. “This collaborative effort complements our portfolio of programs 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.”

The center will combine Elan’s expertise in Alzheimer’s research and model systems with the University of Cambridge’s experience in biophysical approaches to study the molecular basis of protein misfolding and its link to disease. “Protein folding, misfolding, and turnover are central to neurological disease and will be the basis for further scientific and therapeutic advancements,” said Ted Yednock, executive vice-president and head of discovery and translation at Elan, in the press statement. “Our relationship with Cambridge will enable us to address the interconnecting biology and biophysics of protein misfolding in multiple disease areas simultaneously and in a timely way for the ultimate benefit of patients.”

The centre will gain global recognition, according to Christopher Dobson, the John Humphrey Plummer Professor of Chemical and Structural Biology at the University of Cambridge and master of St. John’s College. “Our collective expertise, proven ability to collaborate, and open innovation model provide an exciting basis for the future,” he said in the press statement. “The new center 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.”

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