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BMS and Gladstone combat Alzheimer’s disease ‘tsunami’
February 2012
by Ashley Abraham  |  Email the author
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SAN FRANCISCO— Uniting in a three-year drug discovery research initiative, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (BMS) and the Gladstone Institutes hope to combat the coming onslaught of Alzheimer's disease among the ever-growing elderly population. Financial details have not been disclosed, but BMS has committed to funding Gladstone's research on Tau dysfunction for the next three years, with an opportunity to extend the partnership later.  
 
By targeting the biological mechanism of Alzheimer's as opposed to physical symptoms, the scientists at Gladstone and BMS are fostering the ambitious hope of eliminating the onset of the disease.
 
 
Gladstone has been investigating Alzheimer's since 1998, but recently shifted its focus from academic research to advancing treatments. Gladstone's research focuses on Tau dysfunction. Tau is a naturally occurring protein found primarily in the central nervous system that maintains the stability of the cells' skeleton, but when it forms abnormally, as in Alzheimer's, Tau creates residue of neurofibrillary tangles characteristic of the disease. Gladstone hopes that by targeting the cause of Tau dysfunction, researchers can halt the progression of Alzheimer's.   
 
Anne Holden, spokeswoman for the Gladstone Institutes, says, "If we can't find a root cause, then we can't find a workable, long-lasting solution. That's what makes our research unique."  
 
According to Holden, "during the past five years, we have begun to focus on taking biological discoveries into clinical trials and making sure that these discoveries reach patients."   
 
BMS is facilitating this endeavor through the contribution of untold sums of money with the hope of accelerating drug discovery and moving swiftly to clinical trials. There are currently no drugs on the market that target the molecular causes of Alzheimer's. The Gladstone drug discovery program is the first of its kind in the BMS pipeline, and both BMS and Gladstone are very optimistic that they can expedite discovery and begin helping Alzheimer's patients.   
 
The incidence of Alzheimer's is expected to double in the next 20 to 50 years, the parties point out. 
 
"When it takes an average of 12 years to go from A to Z in developing a drug, it is imperative to begin drug discovery now. Our scientists talk about the coming tsunami of Alzheimer's, and there is virtually nothing in the pipeline," says Holden, emphasizing the need to move expeditiously through the drug discovery process.  
 
Dr. Leonard Mucke, founder and director of Gladstone's Institute of Neurological Disease, began his research in 1998 with a goal of slowing, halting and even reversing the onset of Alzheimer's disease. The partnership with BMS presents a viable means to reach that goal and continue his mission of eradicating Alzheimer's.   
 
"This partnership should enable us to translate our scientific discoveries more quickly into solutions that alleviate the suffering of Alzheimer's patients and their families around the world," said Mucke in a Dec. 22 news release.  
 
There is a possibility that Gladstone and BMS will extend their partnership and begin expanding their drug-discovery alliance to include other neurodegenerative diseases areas. The role of the Tau protein has been investigated in several types of dementia and Parkinson's disease.  
 
Despite these ambitious hopes, Holden cautions that a cure for Alzheimer's is still many years away.  
 
"We need to find a workable solution that will stifle the pending tsunami. In order to do that, we need to investigate the root cause of diseases in regards to Alzheimer 's and Tau dysfunction," said Holden. "We are very optimistic that this partnership will present more commercial opportunities, but right now we are still trying to understand Tau dysfunction, and the funding from BMS will help us reach that goal quickly."
 

 
BMS partners with Simcere on cardiovascular compound  
 
PRINCETON, N.J.—Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (BMS) and Chinese pharmaceutical group Simcere Pharmaceutical recently announced that they have expanded a strategic partnership the companies formed last year to include a second collaboration in a different therapeutic area.
 
The companies agreed to co-develop BMS-795311, BMS' preclinical small-molecule inhibitor of the Cholesteryl Ester Transfer Protein (CETP). Inhibiting CETP could potentially raise HDL (good cholesterol) levels and help prevent cardiovascular disease, BMS claims. This collaboration is expected to accelerate the delivery of clinical Phase IIa proof of concept.  
 
Under the terms of the new agreement, Simcere will receive exclusive rights to develop and commercialize BMS-795311 in China, while BMS will retain exclusive rights in all other markets. The companies will together determine the strategic development plan to explore the potential of BMS-795311 to treat and prevent progression of cardiovascular disease. Simcere will run and fund initial development work.   
 
Financial terms were not disclosed.
 
Code: E021221

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