ANDOVER, Mass. and BOSTON, Jan. 30, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Eisai Inc. and Boston University School of Medicine have formed a research collaboration to study the effects of Alzheimer’s disease-associated genetic variants on the behavior of brain cells, called microglia. Recent discoveries regarding the genetic underpinnings of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), suggest that microglial cells are believed to play a key role in resistance to or susceptibility in developing AD and other neurodegenerative diseases.
According to statistics from the Alzheimer’s Association, AD currently affects more than 5 million people in the U.S., and results in an estimated $259 billion cost to the nation. Over 16 million Americans are predicted to be living with Alzheimer’s by 2050, which would have an estimated $1.1 trillion cost to the U.S.
Under the two-year agreement, Eisai’s immuno-dementia discovery research team at its Andover innovative Medicines (AiM) Institute will work with principal investigator Tsuneya Ikezu, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics and Neurology at Boston University School of Medicine, to study the functional impact of AD-associated genetic variants on microglial biology. Dr. Ikezu’s lab has extensive experience in the cell biology of microglia, and has studied how the innate aspect of the central nervous system (CNS) influences the pathology and progression of neurodegenerative disease. He recently received the Alzheimer’s Association’s Inge Grundke-Iqbal Award for Alzheimer’s Research, based on his work on microglia and exosome-mediated tau propagation.
“Microglia are the latest brain cell types of intense investigation at both basic and translational neuroscience research levels, and their genetic association with Alzheimer’s disease is only strengthened by report after report. Development of cellular platform to study microglia biology is essential for the research community and R&D in the industry,” said Dr. Ikezu.
Eisai has extensive experience in the AD area, having spent over 33 years working on the development of potential treatments, including Donepezil, the first compound found to show improvements on cognitive clinical scales, such as the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale cognitive subscale (ADAS-cog) and Clinician’s Interview-based Impression of Change with caregiver input (CIBIC+). The company’s current clinical pipeline, which includes a number of compounds targeting AD, can be found here.
The AiM Institute, located within the greater Boston biotech hub, is a dedicated R&D discovery innovation unit of over 90 scientists focused on delivering novel and targeted therapeutics that are validated by human genetics and related human biology data. AiM brings extensive expertise in innate immunity, complex synthetic chemistry, and an emphasis on integrated genomics and data science in its efforts to develop compounds targeting immune mechanisms in dementia. To learn more about Eisai AiM, please visit www.EisaiUS-Aim.com.
“Human genetics provide a tremendous opportunity to discover and develop innovative and impactful new medicines. AiM is dedicated to harnessing this opportunity to improve and enhance the lives of patients with Alzheimer’s disease,” said Nadeem Sarwar, President of the AiM Institute. “This collaboration provides an extremely exciting opportunity to work with Boston University School of Medicine, whose world-class expertise in neurology and genetics will assist us in this mission.”
The goal of the collaboration is to understand the mechanisms underlying known genetic drivers of microglial malfunction, which are believed to play a central role in the pathogenesis of AD dementia. Utilizing information attained from the study, the parties hope to develop tools for understanding microglial biology and dissect the functional impact of microglially expressed proteins. Such discoveries may accelerate innovative therapeutic drug development for AD.
About Eisai, Inc.
At Eisai Inc., human health care (hhc) is our goal. We give our first thought to patients and their families, and helping to increase the benefits health care provides. As the U.S. pharmaceutical subsidiary of Tokyo-based Eisai Co., Ltd., we have a passionate commitment to patient care that is the driving force behind our efforts to discover and develop innovative therapies to help address unmet medical needs.
Eisai is a fully integrated pharmaceutical business that operates in two global business groups: oncology and neurology (dementia-related diseases and neurodegenerative diseases). Each group functions as an end-to-end global business with discovery, development, and marketing capabilities. Our U.S. headquarters, commercial and clinical development organizations are located in New Jersey; our discovery labs are in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania; and our global demand chain organization resides in Maryland and North Carolina. To learn more about Eisai Inc., please visit www.eisai.com/US.
About Boston University School of Medicine
Originally established in 1848 as the New England Female Medical College, and incorporated into Boston University in 1873, Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) today is a leading academic medical center with an enrollment of more than 700 medical students and 950 students pursuing degrees in graduate medical sciences. BUSM faculty contribute to more than 668 active grants and contracts, with total anticipated awards valued at more than $693 million in amyloidosis, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, cancer, infectious diseases, pulmonary disease and dermatology, among other areas. The School’s teaching affiliates include Boston Medical Center, its primary teaching hospital, the Boston VA Healthcare System, Kaiser Permanente in northern California, as well as Boston HealthNet, a network of 15 community health centers. For more information, please visit http://www.bumc.bu.edu/busm/.