The University of Dundee Drug Discovery Unit has announced a partnership with Takeda, Japan’s largest pharmaceutical company, to develop possible new therapeutic treatments for tau pathology, an underlying feature in several forms of neurodegeneration, including Alzheimer’s disease.
Tau pathology occurs when the normal cellular protein, tau, misfolds and forms insoluble fibrils. It is found in the brains of sufferers of more than 20 different neurodegenerative diseases, of which Alzheimer’s disease is the most common. Tau pathy is increasingly thought to be an important driver of disease progression. Recent studies demonstrate that tau pathology can spread from diseased to healthy cells in a “seeding” process, which is the focus of this collaboration.
Alzheimer’s disease affects 50 million people worldwide, yet there are currently no disease-modifying treatments. Numbers of sufferers are expected to increase dramatically in the coming decades, thus representing a vast and growing unmet medical need.
Working in collaboration with Dr Will McEwan at the University of Cambridge and Dr Leo James at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, the Drug Discovery Unit has identified drug-like molecules that prevent seeded misfolding of tau.
The partnership with Takeda will accelerate the progression of these drug-like molecules towards clinical development, with the potential to become much-needed therapies in diseases where tau is implicated, including Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr David Gray, Head of Innovative Targets at the Drug Discovery Unit, said, “Our mission is to bridge the gap between innovative life science research and drug development in areas of unmet clinical need, and Alzheimer’s disease is at the top of the list.
“With support from Medical Research Council we are able to work with leading investigators such as Dr Will McEwan in Cambridge and Dr Leo James at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology to deliver programmes that are ready for industry to take forward. Teaming up with Takeda means we’ll get further, faster – bringing a potential treatment for this debilitating condition one step closer.”