Takeda Pharmaceutical and University College London (UCL) said today they have launched a new research collaboration intended to identify and validate new gene targets for treating neurodegenerative disease. The value of the collaboration was not disclosed.

UCL and Takeda said their partnership will focus on developing mechanistic approaches to identify genes or signaling pathways that modify neurodegenerative disease processes affecting neuronal health—citing as examples ALS, Huntington’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease.

Takeda and UCL researchers will work together across preclinical drug discovery areas that include bioinformatics, molecular biology, and pharmacology.

Tetsuyuki Maruyama, Ph.D., general manager of Takeda’s Pharmaceutical Research Division, noted in a statement that central nervous system diseases is one of Takeda’s core therapeutic areas, along with cardiovascular and metabolic disorders, oncology, immunology and respiratory diseases, general medicine, and vaccines.

UCL specializes in CNS research focused on neurodegeneration and rare neurological disorders. UCL’s Institute of Neurology—established in 1950 and merged with the university in 1997—is a key component of the UCL Faculty of Brain Sciences, with research departments in brain repair and rehabilitation; clinical and experimental epilepsy; clinical neuroscience; molecular neuroscience; neurodegenerative disease; neuroinflammation; motor neuroscience and movement disorders; and neuroimaging.

“Developing new treatments for devastating neurodegenerative diseases is an absolutely essential but very challenging goal and requires the complementary expertise of academia and industry, if it is to be achieved. This UCL-Takeda collaboration represents just such a partnership,” stated Professor Alan Thompson, M.D., dean of the UCL Faculty of Brain Sciences.

The research collaboration is one of the largest university partnerships formed in the U.K. by Takeda, which will carry out the work through its research unit based in Cambridge, U.K.

The partnership will initially run for three years, and includes support from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) University College London Hospitals Biomedical Research Centre (BRC). The BRC supports research by funding staff positions, equipment, facilities, and training.

London Mayor Boris Johnson announced the partnership as part of a trade mission to Japan designed to promote life sciences, tech and innovation, as well as London’s retail exports.

Mayor Johnson’s announcement came at BioJapan, where he delivered the keynote address and celebrated the life sciences sector of London and greater South East U.K. region. The region is home to 1,896 life sciences companies generating £16.6 billion ($25.6 billion) annually and employing 62,855 people, according to an announcement by his office.

Mayor Johnson also released a new report from PwC's global strategy consulting team “Strategy&,” which concluded that Japan is the second largest overseas investor in the life sciences sector of England's greater South East region, with £160 million ($246.7 million) invested over the last 10 years.

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