The £5 million award is a partnership between seven universities (Cambridge, Cardiff, Glasgow, King’s College London, Oxford, Southampton and Sussex) and the companies Janssen Research & Development, LLC and Lundbeck. Researchers will investigate to what extent mood disorders and neurodegenerative diseases can be treated by targeting the immune system with anti-inflammatory and other drugs.
The award supports a two-stage project. In stage one, the team will investigate the immune systems of patients with Alzheimer’s disease and patients with depression who have not responded to conventional treatment. They also plan to use animal models to establish more precisely what the relationship is between immune-related markers found in blood and brain function and behaviour. The second part of the research, which is reliant on the success of the first, will be to carry out proof-of-concept experimental medicine trials, using re-purposed anti-inflammatory drugs in patients who have been identified according to their specific immunological profile.
This will be a joint program of work building on the complementary resources and expertise of all parties. The commercial partners in the project will contribute financial support, drug discovery know-how, preclinical models, imaging expertise, and access to anti-inflammatory drugs. The academic partners will contribute expertise in neuroimaging, clinical phenotyping and trials, animal models and informatics.
This article was adapted from a Wellcome Trust Press Release.