Todd B. Sherer, CEO of The Michael J. Fox Foundation, recently wrote an opinion article for Nature Medicine about the importance of collaboration for the advancement of translational research. Importantly, the pharmaceutical companies are beginning to take this advice to heart. There has recently been a surge in the number of collaborations between pharmaceutical companies and academic labs. For example, Biogen Idec recently committed $10 million to support the formation of an academic research consortium with the long-term goal of identifying potential drugs to treat ALS. Now AstraZeneca (AZ) is also jumping on the industry-academia collaboration bandwagon with the announcement of two new collaborations. AZ has entered into a formal collaboration with The Lead Discovery Center (LDC) in Dortmund, Germany. This collaboration will be focused on the identification of new treatments for diseases “with high unmet medical need.” AZ has agreed to contribute 250,000 compounds to LDC, which will screen the compounds against “high-potential targets” in a variety of disease areas including cancer, neuroscience, and inflammation. These targets have been identified by researchers at LDC’s partner academic institutes including, most notably, the Max Planck Society. In addition to the AZ-LDC deal, AZ recently licensed the rights to compounds that are developed at the Vanderbilt Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery (VCNDD). Dr. Mike Poole, the vice president of the AZ Neuroscience Innovative Medicines Unit, said “AstraZeneca is interested in pursuing research collaborations across all areas of neuroscience research where the science is compelling.” Let’s hope that some of the findings that come from these collaborations yield advances and therapies for ALS!
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