AMRI (NASDAQ: AMRI) today announced it received a federal contract award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH)/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) to provide chemistry and other drug discovery technologies in support of NINDS' Medicinal Chemistry for Neurotherapeutics Program (MCNP), part of the NIH Blueprint Neurotherapeutics Network. AMRI has been collaborating with NINDS since 2005 on novel treatments for spinal muscular atrophy, a degenerative neuromuscular disease.
The five-year contract provides AMRI with funding of up to $43 million, based on the number of approved projects and availability of funds. The initial funding of up to $10 million applies to the first phase of the project, expected to begin this month, with the objective of delivering at least one Phase I clinical trial candidate.
"After a highly competitive, rigorous application process, AMRI was selected for this contract award because of our proven track record on projects of similar scope with a number of global pharmaceutical companies. The company's deep bench strength, scale of operations, and strong global footprint enable us to consistently deliver high performance and quality for our clients on a cost-effective basis. This significant award demonstrates the NIH's new focus on helping support the translation of basic research discoveries in areas of unmet medical need to potential drug candidates," said AMRI's Chairman, President and CEO, Thomas E. D'Ambra, Ph.D.
"We are pleased to support NIH/NINDS' efforts and provide our discovery resources to the neuroscience research community and to patients who suffer from devastating neurological and degenerative diseases, such as macular degeneration and Alzheimer's disease," added Dr. D'Ambra.
"The Blueprint Neurotherapeutics Network is modeled after the NIH Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) Project. Our successes in partnering with AMRI and other companies on the SMA Project have given us the confidence to extend this approach to other disorders that affect the nervous system," said Jill Heemskerk, Ph.D., a program director in the NINDS Office of Translational Research and the lead contact for the Blueprint Neurotherapeutics Network.
Under the MCNP, AMRI will begin providing medicinal chemistry services to neuroscientists throughout the United States with the goal of efficiently developing pre-clinical drug candidates that are suitable for advanced development and ultimately clinical trials in humans. AMRI will utilize its integrated drug discovery capabilities involving exploratory chemistry, hit-to-lead chemistry, and lead optimization. Specific services to be provided include compound design, synthesis, and management together with in vitro metabolic testing.