NIH four-year contract will also finance the development of tools to bolster R&D.

The University of Southern California (USC) and Rhenovia Pharma obtained a four-year $2.3 million contract from the NIH. The program aims to further the understanding of cellular mechanisms that underlie brain functions and diseases. The partners will also work together to develop tools to facilitate discovery and development of drugs to treat brain disorders.

The laboratory of biological sciences under Michel Baudry, Ph.D., and the laboratory of biomedical engineering under Theodore Berger, Ph.D., will work to develop mathematical modeling and computer simulation tools to systematically explore relevant molecular processes. These include the processes underlying glutamatergic synaptic transmission and the effects of these synaptic processes on multisynaptic cellular dynamics as well as on a small network of hippocampal neurons.

Rhenovia will receive $440,000 of the grant money to integrate the cellular and molecular mechanisms that serve as drug targets into these mathematical models. The firm will also perform the optimization and validations needed for their commercial application. Rhenovia reports that its technology simulates mechanisms involved in learning and memory and in a variety of brain functions related to the balance between excitation and inhibition.

The contract is part of a Bioengineering Research Partnership Program awarded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

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