New Alliance Seeks to Advance Understanding of Disease and Clear Path for
WILMINGTON, Del. and PHOENIX, Dec. 19 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- The Banner Alzheimer's Institute and AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN) today announced that they will collaborate to help advance understanding of Alzheimer's disease and increase knowledge of potential new avenues for treatment through the use of cutting-edge brain imaging methods.
The new alliance will focus on the evaluation and further development of a radioligand discovered by AstraZeneca. This radioligand is a molecule that binds to amyloid plaque -- protein deposits in the brain that are a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease -- and allows the plaque to be measured in real time using a positron emission tomography (PET) scan.
Scientists at the Banner Alzheimer's Institute and AstraZeneca hope to use this new technology to find clues to how the disease progresses and affects the brain, offering a baseline for future studies. The information could potentially be used to monitor the effectiveness of existing treatments, reveal new therapeutic targets and enhance understanding of novel ways to curtail disease progression.
"We look forward to working with AstraZeneca on the development of this promising research tool for the early detection, tracking and scientific study of Alzheimer's disease in the living human brain," said Dr. Eric Reiman, executive director of the Banner Alzheimer's Institute. "Our goals are to advance the scientific understanding of Alzheimer's disease and evaluate promising disease-slowing and prevention therapies in the most rapid and rigorous way."
Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia and affects more than 5 million Americans (1). Little is known about what causes this fatal condition or how it progresses in patients.
"Collaborating with the world-class researchers at the Banner Alzheimer's Institute means that together we can generate invaluable insights about Alzheimer's disease and we hope that this will facilitate the invention and development of important new medicines to help patients afflicted with this dreadful disease," said Bob Holland, Vice President for Neuroscience at AstraZeneca.
"Researchers at the Banner Alzheimer's Institute have a long-standing reputation for excellent imaging research in the Alzheimer's field. This setting is ideal for further evaluation of our new radioligand with the potential for detailed mapping of amyloid deposits and early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease," said Lars Farde, Chief Scientist for CNS and Pain Research at AstraZeneca.
This the second of several planned new alliances by AstraZeneca with leading academic and research institutions to address unmet medical needs through cutting-edge research across several disease areas, including Alzheimer's disease, chronic pain and psychiatric illnesses. The first collaboration in this series was an agreement with the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, in September, which focused on depression and other psychiatric illnesses. These proposed new agreements complement existing AstraZeneca US-based alliances in neuroscience and other key therapeutic areas with world-class institutions.
About Alzheimer's disease
Alzheimer's disease is a brain disorder that destroys brain cells, causing problems with memory, thinking and behavior severe enough to affect work, lifelong hobbies or social life. Alzheimer's gets worse over time, and it is fatal. Today it is the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States (1).
About Banner Alzheimer's Institute
The Banner Alzheimer's Institute provides clinical care for patients with memory and thinking problems. It also offers education, referral and support services for family and caregivers, and conducts leading-edge research in clinical trials, brain imaging and genetics studies. The Institute is devoted to finding effective Alzheimer's disease-slowing and prevention treatments in the shortest time possible. Banner Alzheimer's Institute is owned and operated by Phoenix-based Banner Health, a nonprofit organization. For more information about Banner Alzheimer's Institute, please visit http://www.banneralz.org.
AstraZeneca is a major international healthcare business engaged in the research, development, manufacture and marketing of prescription pharmaceuticals and the supply of healthcare services. It is one of the world's leading pharmaceutical companies with healthcare sales of $26.47 billion and leading positions in sales of gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, neuroscience, respiratory, oncology and infection products. AstraZeneca is listed in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (Global) as well as the FTSE4Good Index.
In the United States, AstraZeneca is a $12.44 billion healthcare business with more than 12,000 employees. For nearly three decades, AstraZeneca has offered drug assistance programs side by side with its medicines, and over the past five years, has provided over $3 billion in savings to more than 1 million patients throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico. AstraZeneca has been named one of the "100 Best Companies for Working Mothers" by Working Mother magazine and is the only large pharmaceutical company named to FORTUNE magazine's 2007 list of "100 Best Companies to Work For." In 2006, for the fifth consecutive year, Science magazine named AstraZeneca a "Top Employer" on its ranking of the world's most respected biopharmaceutical employers.
(1) The Alzheimer's Association, What is Alzheimer's, http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_what_is_alzheimers.asp, accessed Nov. 26, 2007.
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