Brain Science Institute, Eisai sign licensing agreement to develop GCPII inhibitors

Johns Hopkins University's newly formed Brain Science Institute's NeuroTranslational Program has entered into a licensing agreement with pharmaceutical company Eisai Inc. to discover and develop small molecule glutamate carboxypeptidase II (GCPII) inhibitors.

The NeuroTranslational Program was launched in 2009 staffed with seasoned drug-discovery scientists to work side by side with Johns Hopkins faculty to help translate basic science discoveries into small molecule therapeutics.

Under the terms of the agreement, Eisai has granted the Brain Science Institute, or BSI, non-exclusive U.S. rights to use its GCPII technology to generate inhibitor molecules for diseases of the central and peripheral nervous system, including peripheral neuropathy and neurodegeneration, Alzheimer's disease, stroke, and ALS, as well as non-central nervous system diseases.

BSI will be responsible for the GCPII research, drug discovery and preclinical activities. Eisai will have an exclusive option to develop and commercialize any drug molecules generated from the collaboration, which will be led by a joint steering committee of representatives from both entities. Barbara Slusher, Ph.D., chief scientific officer of the BSI's NeuroTranslational Program, will serve as the academic lead of the steering committee, along with the NeuroTranslational Program's Director of Medicinal Chemistry Takashi Tsukamoto, Ph.D.

"We believe this collaboration will strengthen our ability to bring a novel class of compounds to patients," said Slusher.

"It is a great accomplishment for this team to announce a licensing agreement of this kind within its first year of operation," said Jeffery Rothstein, M.D., professor of neurology and co-director of the program.

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