Takeda Pharmaceutical is initially paying Envoy Therapeutics $3 million under a three-year research alliance aimed at discovering improved drugs for schizophrenia. Takeda will also provide $2.25 million per year in research funding and fees. Envoy will also receive progress-dependent payments and royalties.
Takeda’s corporate venture arm, Takeda Research Investment, invested in Envoy’s first financing in October 2009. Under the research deal, Envoy’s scientists will identify proteins that are selectively expressed in specific cell types within the brain that are known to be affected in patients with schizophrenia. Scientists at the two companies will then work together to evaluate and select those proteins that hold the greatest potential for therapeutic modulation.
Developed at Rockefeller University, with its roots in the government-funded Gene Expression Nervous System ATlas (GENSAT) project, Envoy’s bacTRAP technology combines genetic engineering with molecular biology techniques for labeling and extracting the protein-making components of specific cell types. Envoy engineers bacterial-artificial-chromosome (BAC) transgenic mice that express a green fluorescent protein-ribosomal protein fusion in a specific cell type.
This enables the capture of cell-type-specific ribosomal mRNA through translating-ribosome affinity purification (TRAP). The technology allows scientists to identify new drug targets by measuring the in vivo expression of translated genes in specific, medically relevant cell types among the intermingled cell types present in the central nervous system without requiring the isolation of cells.