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Eli Lilly and Suven enter CNS research deal

By Wai Lang Chu , 01-Sep-2006

Drug giant Eli Lilly has joined forces with Suven Life Sciences in a deal that will focus on pre-clinical research of molecules in the therapeutic area of central nervous system (CNS) disorders.

The deal sees scientists from both parties pooling their knowledge to identify potent, oral compounds that selectively modulate the specified G-Protein coupled receptor for the target CNS disease.

To illustrate just how important GPCR-based drugs are, 12 of the top 20 selling drugs, including Coreg for congestive heart failure, Cozaar for high blood pressure, Zoladex for breast cancer, Buspar for anxiety and Clozaril for schizophrenia, as well as Zantac and Claritin, use this mechanism of action. Together the drug class accounts for $200bn (€159bn) in annual sales.

No details were disclosed as to the types of CNS disorders that were being targeted but Suven have a history of R&D in such ailments as Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia, depression, vascular dementia and Parkinson's disease.

Details that were disclosed include the agreement that Suven will receive milestone payments from Lilly and potentially downstream payments if the identified candidates are selected by Lilly for further pre-clinical research and development.

"This is our first true research collaboration with a global pharmaceutical company thereby helping us realise the next step of our strategic vision," said Venkat Jasti, vice chairman and chief executive officer of Suven.

Suven is no stranger to the market for CNS therapies - currently the second largest therapeutic category worldwide and is one of the fastest growing.

Suven recently presented preclinical data of their 5-HT 6 antagonist compounds being developed for the treatment of Mild Cognitive impairment (MCI) associated with Alzheimer's disease or Schizophrenia, Parkinson and Obesity diseases.

Early results suggested that its 5HT 6 antagonists would provide a novel, safe and effective approach of treating these diseases.

According to market research firm Espicom, within the CNS market the largest segments by sales are: antidepressants (23 per cent market share), antipsychotics (22.6 per cent) and anti-epileptics (16.8 per cent).

Some of the fastest growing segments are: sleep disorders (+14.8 per cent), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (+10.8 per cent), Alzheimer's disease (+10.7 per cent) and antipsychotics (+10.2 per cent). All figures are year-on-year.

CNS disorders represent more than 15 per cent of the global cost of disease. For example, costs of over $100bn per annum make Alzheimer's the third most expensive disease in the USA.

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