Mayo Clinic, SK biopharmaceuticals collaborate to discover new ALS drugs

South Korean biotech SK biopharmaceuticals announced yesterday that they signed an agreement to collaborate with the Mayo Clinic for the discovery of new drugs targeting Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease).

The collaboration aims to discover innovative drugs that may aid in the treatment of the disease. Current drugs are known to extend a patient's life by only three months on average.

Dr. Jeong Woo Cho, Vice President for the Drug Development Business, said, "This is the case of a happy marriage between a specialty company with excellent preclinical R&D and Mayo Clinic, a first-class research institute focused on a new scientific paradigm and equipped to take on specialized clinical trials. The collaboration aims to identify drug targets that help treat this fatal disease."

ALS is a neurological disorder which strikes one in one hundred thousand people, and every year 5,000 people are newly diagnosed with the disease. The disease occurs acutely, and, within 3 years of diagnosis, 50 percent of the patients will have succumbed to the disease.

With their three year collaboration, SK biopharmaceuticals will work with Mayo Clinic's Leonard Petrucelli, Ph.D., Chair and Professor of Neuroscience. Dr. Petrucelli's laboratory has pioneered research in the neurosciences field. The first phase of the preclinical research collaboration will focus on chemical compounds that target TDP-43, a protein that is a prime suspect in the disease.

With their three year collaboration, SK biopharmaceuticals will work with Mayo Clinic's Leonard Petrucelli, Ph.D., Chair and Professor of Neuroscience. Dr. Petrucelli's laboratory has pioneered research in the neurosciences field. The first phase of the preclinical research collaboration will focus on chemical compounds that target TDP-43, a protein that is a prime suspect in the disease.

Dr. Cho said, "The company will pursue Fast Track development for the compound to meet the urgent need of many patients. In addition, the FDA permits designation as an Orphan disease for any disorder that affects fewer than 200,000 patients in the US to encourage research activity in rare diseases by the pharmaceutical industry. We hope that the compounds under development may also be applicable to other neurodegenerative diseases with similar origins, such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease."

According to an industry source, Datamonitor, the market size for ALS is forecast to be $230 million dollars by the year 2017.

Dr. Sang Hoon Park, the President of SK biopharmaceuticals said, "This collaboration between SK biopharmaceuticals and Mayo Clinic is the result of the concept of Open Innovation, a strategy we have pursued that will merge our R&D capability with the innovative ideas of our collaborators. We will keep building networks with top institutes and companies to reach our goal to become a research-focused top global company."

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SK biopharmaceuticals

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