Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute (Sanford-Burnham) has entered into a collaboration with Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (OMJPI) to discover compounds for Alzheimer’s disease and major psychiatric disorders. Under the agreement, multi-disciplinary teams from Sanford-Burnham and OMJPI will collaborate to identify and validate new targets for drug discovery and will seek compounds suitable for lead optimization and further development by OMJPI.
OMJPI gains exclusive access for a three-year term to a multi-disciplinary team of world-class scientists and a translational infrastructure dedicated to finding new approaches to treating patients with devastating neurological and psychiatric conditions.
For Sanford-Burnham, the collaboration with researchers at 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.
Sanford-Burnham will also receive funding including: upfront and yearly access fees, funding of discovery research in the field, milestone payments and royalties for successfully developed products. A joint steering committee will oversee the collaboration, which includes a drug discovery team funded by OMJPI in the Conrad Prebys Center for Chemical Genomics (CPCCG) at Sanford-Burnham.
CPCCG 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 rate of commercialization of basic research by generating small molecule probes that can be used to develop a pipeline of drugs to treat unmet medical needs. Sanford-Burnham’s drug discovery capabilities include: ultra high-throughput screening; high content screening; phenotypic screening; and target deconvolution technologies. CPCCG is led and staffed by industry-trained professionals who work closely with Sanford-Burnham investigators and industry collaborators to assist them in translating their scientific findings into actionable 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 at Sanford-Burnham.
Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually, the ability to carry out the simplest tasks of daily living. Recent estimates from the Alzheimer’s Association put the number of people in the U.S. with Alzheimer’s at 5.3 million. While four drugs that temporarily improve cognitive function in Alzheimer’s patients are on the market, currently, there is no treatment available to stop the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
Major psychiatric disorders, such as bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder and schizophrenia, are a huge burden on society. These conditions have their onset in adolescence or early adulthood, and impair overall health as well as the ability to learn, work and function in society. According to the National Institute of Mental Health 2.3 million adult Americans suffer from bipolar disorder, a condition associated with profound alterations of mood. Similar to other chronic health conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease, bipolar disorder and other major psychiatric illnesses must be treated and managed throughout a person’s life.