TAU Researchers Develop Breakthrough Treatment for Alzheimer's Disease Tuesday, July 10, 2007
New drug therapy offers new hope for victims of the affliction
A novel drug technology to treat Alzheimer's disease developed by Prof. Ehud Gazit and his team of researchers at the George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences at Tel Aviv University (TAU), Israel, was licensed to Merz Pharmaceuticals GmbH by Ramot at Tel Aviv University Ltd., the University’s technology transfer company. The worldwide exclusive license deal includes an upfront fee and milestone payments as well as royalties on future sales.
The technology developed at TAU was one of a portfolio of technologies that were selected to be funded by an $8.5M investment raised by Ramot in 2003 from a group of US investors. Ramot’s licensing partner Merz Pharmaceuticals is one of the main pharmaceutical players in the area of Alzheimer’s disease research and development. With Memantine, Merz’ blockbuster anti-dementia drug, the company has proven its expertise in successful development of innovative Alzheimer’s disease treatments.
“Our goal is to offer novel therapeutic options of additional benefit to the patients by developing innovative new drugs within our main area of expertise, the treatment of CNS disorders,” says Dr. Alexander Gebauer, Head of Global R&D. Dr. Martin Zuegel, CEO of Merz Pharmaceuticals GmbH, explains: “The partnership with Ramot to further the development of TAU’s cutting-edge technology marks an important next step in reaching our ambitious goal.”
"These drug candidates, as well as other central nervous system-related technologies, are the fruits of innovative life science and medical research performed at TAU,” adds Prof. Hagit Messer-Yaron, TAU Vice President for R&D.
"We believe that our cooperation with Merz Pharmaceuticals will lead to the development of long sought-after effective treatment for some of the most devastating illnesses known to date," commented Prof. Zvi Galil, President of Tel Aviv University.
Alzheimer's disease is a chronic neurodegenerative disorder. In its early stages, it impairs cognitive function, causing memory loss, language deterioration, reduced ability to process visual information, delusional thinking and poor judgment. As the disease progresses, cerebral deterioration severely compromises basic cognition and daily function. At a more advanced stage of the illness, the increasing loss of independence leads to an increased need for supervision and possibly even full long-term care.
Alzheimer’s dementia, clearly the most devastating of neurodegenerative diseases, poses a global public health challenge and will continue to do so for generations to come. The Alzheimer’s Association estimated two years ago that 4.5 million Americans and 15 million people worldwide suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. These figures were projected to nearly triple that number by 2050 due to the ageing of populations in the developed world.