Firm pledges $10 million to establish center.

Elan will put at least $10 million into a collaboration with the U.K.’s University of Cambridge to establish the Cambridge-Elan Centre for Research Innovation and Drug Discovery. Based at the University’s Department of Chemistry, the new facility will focus on the discovery and development of new compounds that can alter the behavior of proteins associated with neurodegenerative disorders, in particular Alzheimer and Parkinson diseases. The funding from Elan will support the first five years of the initially 10-year initiative.

Establishing the Cambridge-Elan Centre effectively cements an existing working relationship between scientists at the two organizations, and combine Elan’s expertise in Alzheimer research and model systems, with the University’s expertise in studying the molecular basis of protein misfolding and aggregation. Elan says the relationship allows it to address the interconnecting biology and biophysics of protein misfolding in multiple disease areas simultaneously.

“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,” comments Dale Schenk, Ph.D. executive vp and CSO at Elan.

Dublin-based Elan is focused on the development of treatments for neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer disease and Parkinson disease, and autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis. The firm’s development pipeline is headed by ELND005, a Phase II-stage small molecule beta amyloid anti-aggregation agent. A preclinical-stage Alzheimer disease program is in addition focused on developing beta secretase inhibitors. ELND002 is a Phase I/II-stage PEGylated small molecule alpha4 integrin inhibitor in development for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. Elan’s Parkinson disease research is focused on targeting alpha-synuclein and the mechanisms involved in the formation of Lewy bodies. The firm’s marketed multiple sclerosis drug, Tysabri™ (natalizumab), which was developed in partnership with Biogen Idec, is also in development for treating Crohn disease.  

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