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Biotech, Pharma Companies Partner on Schizophrenia Research

Brain scan (National Institute of Mental Health)

(National Institute of Mental Health)

Takeda Pharmaceutical Company, a global drug manufacturer in Osaka, Japan, and Envoy Therapeutics Inc., a drug discovery company in Jupiter, Florida, said today they formed a three-year research alliance aimed at discovering drugs for schizophrenia with greater efficacy and safety compared to current therapies.

Envoy’s technology, called bacTRAP, combines genetic engineering with molecular biology techniques for labeling and extracting the protein-making components of specific types of cells. The company says the technology was first developed at Rockefeller University, and traces its roots to the Gene Expression Nervous System ATlas (GENSAT) project of NIH’s National Center for Biotechnology Information.

With bacTRAP, Envoy’s researchers will identify proteins that are selectively expressed in specific cell types within the brain that are known to be affected in patients with schizophrenia. Scientists at the two companies will then work together to evaluate and select those proteins that hold the greatest potential for therapeutic modulation.

Under the terms of the agreement, Takeda will make a $3 million upfront payment as well as providing $2.25 million per year in research funding and fees. In addition, Envoy will receive potential progress-dependent milestone payments and royalties should one or more compounds advance to clinical development and commercialization.

Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe, and disabling brain disorder that affects about 1.1 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year. People with schizophrenia sometimes hear voices others don’t hear, believe that others are broadcasting their thoughts to the world, or become convinced that others are plotting to harm them. These experiences can make them fearful and withdrawn and cause difficulties when they try to have relationships with others.

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