Organon’s compound, Org 24448, selected to test efficacy of cognitive dysfunction in schizophrenia

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) sponsored network called Treatment Units for Research on Neurocognition in Schizophrenia (TURNS) has selected Organon’s compound, Org 24448, to undergo testing as part of its effort to facilitate the development of medications to enhance cognition in patients with schizophrenia.

Org 24448 is an ampakine that intensifies the action of the AMPA type glutamate receptors in the brain, which may in turn influence cognitive functions such as thinking, attention, and memory.Org 24448 is currently in phase II of development for the treatment of schizophrenia both as a single treatment and in combination with other medications.

Testing of Org 24448 will take place in the TURNS network, which was established in May 2004. The TURNS initiative, a four year $9 million program funded by the NIMH, aims to identify compounds of interest and conduct proof of concept clinical studies on the treatment of cognitive deficits in schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe and disabling brain disease. Approximately 1 percent of the population develops schizophrenia during their lifetime – more than 2 million Americans suffer from the disease in a given year. Although currently available medications are reasonably effective in treating the positive symptoms of the disease such as hallucinations and delusions, recent research indicates that cognitive impairments that accompany schizophrenia in areas such as attention, memory, and problem solving skills are responsible for much of the disability associated with the disease.

The selection of Organon’s Org 24448 as one of the first compounds for testing was the culmination of a formal review of a large pool of nominated compounds by the TURNS Target and Compound Selection Committee. The decision of this Committee was based on data indicating a possible marked alleviation of cognitive dysfunction with Org 24448. Org 24448 represents a new concept in the treatment of schizophrenia and other disorders of the central nervous system. Organon licensed the rights to develop ampakines for the treatment of schizophrenia and depression from Cortex Pharmaceuticals Inc. (Irvine, California, USA); Org 24448 is the result of a two year collaborative research program.

“Cognitive dysfunction has a devastating impact on patients’ and their families’ lives and through this historic project we are determined to make treatments available as quickly as possible. The medications currently available to treat schizophrenia do little to remedy the cognitive aspect of this disease. Org 24448 was selected from a large number of submitted compounds on the basis of its promise in relation to cognitive dysfunction,” commented Stephen R. Marder MD at Universityof California, Los Angeles(UCLA) and TURNS Principal Investigator.

“We are thrilled that the TURNS Target and Compound Selection Committee has recognized the potential of Org 24448 for the treatment of cognitive dysfunction in schizophrenia, and the TURNS initiative will enable Organon to rigorously test this promising compound,” said David Nicholson, Senior Vice President Global Research, welcoming the news. “The decision to test Org 24448 exemplifies Organon’s commitment to the development of innovative products for the treatment of diseases of the central nervous system. We look forward to a challenging and fruitful collaboration with TURNS”

TURNS clinical investigators are now working closely with Organon researchers and the Universityof California Los Angeles(UCLA) to develop a detailed final trial design. It is envisaged that the trial will follow patients for three months and will include around 100 patients. Data from the trial are expected to be available in 2006.

The NIMH sponsored approach is built on the assumption that progress in developing new treatments will require collaboration between the best academic, government and industry scientists. The TURNS is one component of a multi-pronged NIMH effort to stimulate academic and industry collaboration to hasten the availability of innovative medicines to treat people with common and disabling mental illnesses.,,


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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