Friday, July 13, 2012
AstraZeneca and Dr. Steven Paul of Weill Cornell Medical College have announced a first of its kind research alliance that brings four leading academic research laboratories together with AstraZeneca to study a major risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, the apolipoprotein E4 genotype (ApoE).
Members of the newly established collaboration, called the A5 alliance, include Dr. Paul, director of the Helen and Robert Appel Alzheimer’s Disease Research Institute at Weill Cornell, Dr. David Holtzman of Washington University in St. Louis, Dr. Peter Davies of The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research and Dr. Cheryl Wellington of the University of British Columbia.
ApoE is considered second only to age as a risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s disease. However, drug discovery efforts involving ApoE have been hampered by challenging biology and a lack of in-vivo models. The A5 alliance members represent a team of academic scientists with expertise in ApoE biology who will focus on identification, validation and risk reduction of drug targets for treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr. Paul, principal academic collaborator for the A5 alliance and professor of neuroscience, psychiatry and pharmacology at Weill Cornell, said, “The formation of the A5 alliance represents a unique academic-industry partnership whereby these Alzheimer’s disease experts will link their labs together and work closely with a pharmaceutical company to unlock the science behind ApoE in order to discover new disease-modifying drug targets. We are convinced that ApoE represents a major piece of the Alzheimer’s disease puzzle and that each member of the A5 alliance brings a critical piece of that puzzle to the table.”
Dr. Menelas Pangalos, executive vice president of Innovative Medicines, AstraZeneca, said, “In February, AstraZeneca initiated a new, flexible approach to neuroscience that would allow us to tap into the most exciting science and discoveries that exist in labs around the world. The A5 alliance, under the leadership of Dr. Paul, is a prime example of the great minds we hope to bring together in the search for new medicines to help people who suffer from neurodegenerative diseases, psychiatric disorders and pain.”
AstraZeneca will fund the academic research and members of AstraZeneca’s Neuroscience Innovative Medicines unit will contribute program management and scientific expertise. The academic alliance members will contribute their disease area knowledge and expertise, as well as lead specific aspects of the research program in their labs.