YRING celebrates second multi-million pound investment award

YRING celebrates second multi-million pound investment award

Issued: Tue, 01 Oct 2002 00:00:00 BST

For the second time in five years, a partnership between the Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde and Scottish Biomedical has secured multi-million pound investment for research into new antipsychotic treatments for schizophrenia.

Due to its continued success, YRING, the Yoshitomi Research Institute of Neuroscience in Glasgow, has won a second major research contract from top Japanese pharmaceutical company, Mitsubishi Pharma Corporation (formerly Yoshitomi Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd).

The latest award was negotiated by the research commercialisation departments of the Universities, and by technology management specialists, Scottish Biomedical, who facilitated initial funding for YRING in 1997.

The YRING project, based at the Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde, brings together leading biomedical researchers and clinical psychiatrists, with the aim of creating novel antipsychotic treatments for schizophrenia.

Celebrating the successful funding negotiations, Dr Stephen Hammond, Chief Executive of Scottish Biomedical said: 'We are delighted that Mitsubishi Pharma Corporation has pledged a further commitment to the YRING project.

Their latest investment is based on the success of the last five years and will enable an increased team of 15 scientists to continue their work for a further five years. This reinforces the confidence that Mitsubishi Pharma Corporation has in the research programme, and emphasises the strength of Scotland globally as a base for biomedical research. The researchers, the facilities and the expertise here are among the best in the world.'

Setting the context for schizophrenia treatment and research, Dr Judith Pratt, the University of Strathclyde's co-director of YRING, said: 'Schizophrenia is an extremely debilitating mental illness, and it is one of the most expensive diseases to treat. It affects one per cent of the population throughout the world, amounting to 20 million people.

Existing antipsychotic drugs do not cure the disease nor do they treat all the symptoms. Whilst the drugs treat the hallucinations and delusions associated with schizophrenia, they do not treat the cognitive aspects of the disease that affect the ability of people to think and plan daily activities. Designing new therapies that tackle this aspect of the disease is a major focus of our research.'

Dr Robert Hunter, Consultant Psychiatrist at Gartnavel Royal Hospital and honorary senior lecturer in Psychological Medicine at the University of Glasgow, is one of the clinical psychiatrists involved in the YRING project.

He said: 'The benefits of existing drugs are often outweighed by the side effects, some of which can be extremely unpleasant. One of the most disturbing side effects of existing medication is the onset of symptoms that resemble those in Parkinson's disease, when patients develop tremors and lose their motor co-ordination. Eliminating this type of side effect is also a focus of our research.'

Professor Brian Morris, the University of Glasgow's co-director of YRING, continued: 'In the past five years, YRING has made remarkable progress in an area which had not advanced substantially in the previous 50 years. We are delighted that we will be able to build on our research and are confident that our work will lead to fundamentally different and highly effective treatments for schizophrenia.

One of our most exciting developments is that we have identified schizophrenia-related genes using new gene chip approaches. These genes have not previously been linked to schizophrenia and may represent completely new therapeutic targets, with the chance of curing the disease rather than just treating the symptoms.'

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Members of the press are invited to attend the contract-signing ceremony at The Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow at 12.30pm on Wednesday 2nd October where Professors Pratt and Morris will be available for interview.

Scottish Biomedical was formed in 1994 to promote basic and applied research in the medical sciences and biotechnology. More information can be found at www.scottish-biomedical.com

Mitsubishi Pharma Corporation is one of Japan's ten largest pharmaceutical and chemical companies, and is a leading provider of drugs for the treatment of anxiety and schizophrenia. The YRING project is the company's first overseas research venture.

Research and Enterprise (R&E) is the research development and commercialisation arm of the University of Glasgow. R&E delivers the University's world class research, technologies and services to the market place and offers a range of commercial opportunities arising from the research activities. For further information see: Research and Enterprise

Research and Consultancy Services (R&C) is the commercial office of the University of Strathclyde. The office offers a range of services to industry, including research expertise, collaborative development opportunities and emerging technologies for licensing.

R&C provides a one-stop shop for business across a wide range of market sectors, from pharmaceuticals to engineering. The patent portfolio of innovations and inventions is constantly being developed through industry-led academic research. More information available at http://www.strathclydetechnology.com

Schizophrenia affects the chemistry of the brain. It belongs to a group of mental illnesses called 'psychoses', where individuals' contact with reality becomes distorted. No single cause of schizophrenia has been identified, although a range of genetic and environmental factors can affect the risk of developing the disease.

Professor Morris (Department of Neuroscience and Biomedical Systems, Institute of Biomedical and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow) and Dr Judith Pratt (Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, University of Strathclyde) are leading neuroscientists within their respective universities. Both departments achieved an excellent grade 5 in the latest research assessment exercise.

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