Published: 26-01-2012 00:00 | Updated: 26-11-2013 10:29

KI and AstraZeneca strengthen their collaboration in neuroscience

[NEWS 26 January 2012] Karolinska Institutet and AstraZeneca today announced a three year collaborative research agreement that will apply state-of-the-art molecular imaging technologies to generate novel diagnostic imaging tools.

KI and AstraZeneca have collaborated since 2006 in the field of Positron Emission Tomography (PET), a modern imaging technique allowing for non-invasive examination of the human brain. This joint venture and application of complementary capabilities has led to the invention of numerous novel PET ligands, as well as aided in the development of a number of drug development programs.

Continued collaboration between AstraZeneca and the university is expected to deliver new imaging tools for the diagnosis of patients primarily with severe neurological illnesses as well as in pain control. In addition, the alliance will facilitate the development of drugs for disorders such as chronic pain, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, where there is an urgent need for new treatments.

Diseases that affect brain function are a widespread public health problem. According to the European Brain Council nearly a third of Europe's population suffers from, at some time in their life, diseases that affect the brain. PET cameras and suitable imaging molecules can be used to study proteins in the brain that are biologically active in the signaling between nerve cells or that serve as markers for brain disorders. Knowledge about these proteins is highly significant for understanding how the brain works, and also for the effective development and testing of new drugs.

Mene Pangalos, Executive Vice President Innovative Medicines, AstraZeneca, said:

"AstraZeneca is pleased to extend our collaboration with Karolinska Institutet in the area of PET imaging. Demonstrating robust target engagement is one of the critical success criteria for transitioning molecules through early research and development. Working with our colleagues from Karolinska Institutet will help us identify and develop new PET ligands and accelerate our efforts to deliver novel medicines to patients."

Professor Harriet Wallberg-Henriksson, President of Karolinska Institutet, said:

"Karolinska Institutet has a 30 year successful and pioneering tradition in PET research. The method allow for rapid translation of laboratory knowledge into mechanistic pharmacological studies in man. The collaboration with AstraZeneca is a wonderful opportunity that will strengthen this line of research. Karolinska Institutet welcomes the collaboration as a means toward improving the processes of drug and biomarker development."

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