New psychiatric research institute open for business

New psychiatric research institute open for business

March 7 2008

A Glasgow-based drug research institute, specialising in psychiatric drug development, is expanding its work to offer comprehensive services to companies and scientific partners.

PsyRING (the Psychiatric Research Institute of Neuroscience in Glasgow) a collaborative venture between the Universities of Strathclyde and Glasgow and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, has an extensive and successful track record of drug research and development in the field of mental health. It is led by three prominent experts in neuroscience and psychiatric illnesses- Professor Judy Pratt, Professor Brian Morris and Professor Robert Hunter.

The Institute has operated for the past decade, under the name of YRING, in an exclusive collaboration with Mitsubishi Pharma, one of Japan’s leading pharmaceutical companies. YRING developed and employed sophisticated genetic, molecular, cellular, systems level and behavioural neuroscience approaches, alongside an integrated clinical programme, to discover and develop novel treatments for schizophrenia. Targets and drugs identified through this work are progressing for drug research and development.

Building upon the skills and success of YRING, and the support of Scottish Enterprise, PsyRING provides a range of translational drug screening, development and clinical services to companies and other collaborators active in the development of drugs in the Psychiatric sector worldwide.

PsyRING draws on the skills of the Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Strathclyde, the Faculty of Biomedical and Life Sciences at the University of Glasgow and Gartnavel Royal Hospital, Glasgow.

A major challenge in the development of any new psychiatric drug is the assessment of its potential activity before clinical trials commence. PsyRING has access to a range of established tools to evaluate drug activity, thus permitting potential drugs to be screened and those with the appropriate activity to be selected to progress into clinical trials.

These services will be provided alongside an active academic research programme aimed at increasing understanding of the causes of major psychiatric diseases and speeding up the process of drug development.

Professor Pratt said: ‘’There is a clear need for translational programmes in psychiatric research if we are to make advances in the treatment of disabling diseases such as schizophrenia. PsyRING offers many collaborative opportunities and services, with a strong clinical interface. Through the use of translational models and biomarkers to speed drug development, we aim to reduce the risk of failure in clinical trials.”

Professor Morris said: “Because PsyRING originates from a long-standing commercial collaboration, we already have an established track record in working with companies to enhance their drug development programmes. The unique blend and range of skills in PsyRING allows us to make an unparalleled contribution to the development of improved treatments for these devastating diseases’’

Professor Hunter said: “Drug development in psychiatry is especially difficult and there is a clear need for much better pharmacotherapies for people with these disorders.

“Although traditional discovery approaches allow some screening for relevant activities, most drugs have been developed using an almost hit- and -miss approach in clinical trials. This has led to a very high failure rate in trials and a resulting shortage of effective drugs to treat what are serious and disabling mental diseases.

“With the tools available through PsyRING,we can finally start to change this, offering advanced and well-validated screens which mean that we can test new candidate drugs more thoroughly and proceed to clinical trials only with those compounds that really stand a high probability of working in the patient.”

PsyRING works with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to assist them in drug development programmes. It already has over £1M in contracts and collaborations with a number of organisations active in the field including Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Co., the Translational Medicine Research Collaboration (TMRC) and GlaxoSmithKline

PsyRING held a symposium on new developments in the understanding and treatment of schizophrenia on Tuesday, March 11 at the Kelvin Gallery by Hunterian Museum

Notes for editors:

1.  The Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences was formed in 2006 through the amalgamation of five biomedical departments at the University of Strathclyde. It is a world-class, innovative centre for research and teaching in drug discovery and development.

2. The Faculty of Biomedical & Life Sciences is an internationally recognised centre for research and teaching in the biological sciences. With 140 academic staff and nearly 250 postgraduate students, FBLS is one of the major
Centres for biological research in Europe. 
3. NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Research and Development hosts about 60% of total clinical research in
Scotland and provides a world-class environment for health-related research. The NHS R&D Centre is based in newly-refurbished premises at the Tennent Institute at the Western Infirmary, Glasgow, alongside the West of Scotland Research Ethics Service and the Glasgow Clinical Research Facility.

4. Research has been funded and supported by the Translational Medicine Research Collaboration (TMRC). The TMRC is a partnership of the universities of Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow,  with Grampian, Tayside, Lothian and Greater Glasgow & Clyde NHS Boards, the industrial partner Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and Scottish Enterprise (for further details visit  TMRC is managed by the Translational Medicine Research Institute (TMRI Ltd).

5. Scottish Enterprise, Scotland’s national economic development agency, has been involved over the past two years in developing the business plan and strategy for PsyRING. It has approved a contribution to support the appointment of an experienced business development manager to work on PsyRING’s commercial contracts and potential spin-out opportunities.

Further information:

Paul Gallagher
Press Officer
University of Strathclyde
T: 0141 548 2370
F: 0141 552 1576
Room 3:13
McCance Building
16 Richmond Street
G1 1XQ

Ray McHugh
Senior Media Relations Officer
University of Glasgow
T: 0141 330 3535
No 3 The Square
G12 8QQ