MANTRA™ screening platform identifies small molecule modulators of synaptic transmission.

Galenea has won $4.5 million funding from the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health to support the identification and development of novel schizophrenia drug candidates and further develop its high-throughput screening platform MANTRA™ (multiwall, automated neurotransmission assay) for the identification of small molecule modulators of synaptic transmission.

The grant is the second awarded to Galenea as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The first NIH grant was awarded a year ago to fund the firm’s development of a technology for measuring in vivo biomarkers that can predict the activity of candidate drugs for treating diseases associated with impaired cognition.

“These two grants validate Galenea’s innovative approach to increasing the success rate of drug discovery and development in the neuroscience field,” remarks David Gerber, Galenea cofounder and VP of CNS research. “Drugs with new mechanisms of action are desperately needed to address psychiatric and neurological diseases, but have been extremely difficult to find. MANTRA will enable us to identify new drug targets and new compounds based on their functional effects on neurons.”

Galenea is focused on the discovery of new drugs for treating psychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases.The firm has been working in collaboration with Otsuka Pharmaceutical since January 2005 on the discovery and development of first-in-class therapies for schizophrenia and other central nervous system (CNS) diseases, based on the calcineurin pathway. This collaboration has provided research funding of some $90 million.

With an initial focus on schizophrenia, the firm is using its genomics-based and neurophysiologic research capabilities and access to schizophrenia animal models further investigate the role of calcineurin dysfunction in schizophrenia. Galenea claims its research has generated small molecule modulators of the calcineurin pathway, which it hopes will lead to the development of treatments for schizophrenia that lead to improved cognitive function, dampen the negative symptoms associated with schizophrenia, and display reduced side effects. Its current preclinical pipeline includes both indole-based 5-HT2C agonists for the treatment of schizophrenia and obesity, and 5-HT6 antagonists for treating cognitive impairment associated with schizophrenia.

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