Navigation Links
NIH Blueprint empowers drug development for nervous system disorders

The National Institutes of Health has made awards to investigators across the United States for an ambitious set of projects seeking to develop new drugs for disorders of the nervous system.

The projects aimed at treating conditions such as vision loss, neurodegenerative disease and depression are funded through the NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research. The NIH Blueprint pulls together 15 of the agency's institutes and centers, leveraging their resources to confront major, cross-cutting challenges in neuroscience research. The Blueprint Neurotherapeutics Network ( will serve as a resource enabling investigators to develop new drugs for nervous system disorders and prepare them for clinical trials, and will be funded at up to $50 million over five years.

For decades, public funding from NIH has helped academic labs and small businesses use their ingenuity to pursue new strategies for treating nervous system disorders. However, many labs often lack the resources time, money, scientific staff, and regulatory expertise to turn a promising strategy into an effective treatment. The new initiative places these investigators at the helm of an expert drug development team that includes pharmaceutical industry consultants and service contractors.

"The Blueprint Neurotherapeutics Network will pair neuroscientists with experts in therapy development, and enable them to pursue their most exciting ideas for new drugs without having to redirect the focus of their laboratories," said Story Landis, Ph.D., director of NIH's National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), which is a member of the NIH Blueprint.

Nervous system disorders affect tens of millions of Americans, and there is a substantial unmet need for treatment. But the process for developing new drug therapies is costly and carries high risk. Only about 10-20 percent of candidate drugs for all disease indications survive the early phases of development and reach clinical trials. And development of treatments for disorders affecting the nervous system may face special hurdles. For example, many such disorders are individually rare, which means they present small markets for drug companies.

Before a new compound can move into clinical trials, its chemical structure must typically be redesigned to transform it into a safe and effective drug, a process called chemical optimization. Hundreds of chemical variations must be tested and retested in cell-based systems and animal models to find one with the desired effects.

Project teams supported by the Blueprint Neurotherapeutics Network receive research funding, plus access to millions of dollars worth of services normally only available to pharmaceutical companies. The pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry consultants will assist investigators throughout the drug development process, from chemical optimization, to biological testing, to advancing the drug into early-stage clinical trials. Each project team will be required to meet a set of interim goals, or milestones, to continue to receive funds and access to Blueprint resources.

The Blueprint has made awards to seven research teams at six academic institutions and one drug discovery company. Detailed information about the seven projects is available at The project teams and their strategies are:

Brigham and Women's Hospital, Cambridge, Mass., and Ohio State University, Columbus
Principal Investigators: Marcie Glicksman, Ph.D., Gregory Cuny, Ph.D. and Chien Liang Lin, Ph.D.
Disorder: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
Strategy: To slow the onset of paralysis in ALS by reducing toxic levels of the brain chemical glutamate. The compounds under study work by stimulating EAAT2, a protein that enables cells to essentially vacuum up excess glutamate.

Columbia University, New York City
Principal Investigator: Konstantin Petrukhin, Ph.D.
Disorder: Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
Strategy: To slow the course of dry AMD, which occurs when cells in the eye degenerate, due in part to the chemistry of vision. A derivative of retinol (a form of Vitamin A) is needed for vision, but it also generates a toxic byproduct. The compounds under study would reduce retinol levels in the eye.

Emory University, Atlanta
Principal Investigator: Raymond Dingledine, Ph.D.
Disorder: Stroke
Strategy: To pharmacologically enhance the activity of EP2, a receptor for prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are primarily known for their role in inflammation, but activation of the EP2 receptor has protective effects in animal models of stroke.

Trevena, Inc., King of Prussia, Pa.
Principal Investigator: Michael William Lark, Ph.D.
Disorder: Depression Strategy: To develop faster antidepressants that tap into the body's system of natural feel-good chemicals known as endorphins. The compounds under study activate the delta-opioid receptor, which is involved in the brain's response to endorphins.

University of California, San Diego
Principal Investigator: Steven Wagner, Ph.D.
Disorder: Alzheimer's disease
Strategy: To develop selective modulators of an enzyme responsible for producing Abeta-42, a protein fragment that accumulates in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease. Abeta-42 is believed to play a critical role in brain cell death and dementia.

University of Miami, and Miami Project to Cure Paralysis
Principal Investigators: John Bixby, Ph.D., Vance Lemmon, Ph.D. and Jeffrey Goldberg, M.D., Ph.D.
Disorder: Optic neuropathy (damage to the optic nerves)
Strategy: To develop compounds that help injured fibers in the optic nerve regenerate and grow through scar tissue. Damage to the optic nerves, which connect the eyes to the brain, is a common cause of vision loss.

University of Washington, and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle
Principal Investigators: Edwin Rubel, Ph.D., David Raible, Ph.D. and Julian Simon, Ph.D.
Disorders: Hearing loss and balance disorders
Strategy: To develop compounds that prevent the damaging effects certain antibiotics and anticancer drugs can have on cells inside the ear. The team is testing compounds in larval zebrafish, which use similar cells to detect vibrations in water.

"The investigators get access to the same resources and expertise that drug companies have," said Jill Heemskerk, Ph.D., a program director in the NINDS Office of Translational Research and the lead contact for the Blueprint Neurotherapeutics Network. "The investigators will retain intellectual property rights for any drugs they develop through the network. Our hope is that pharmaceutical companies will license the most promising drugs and invest in the clinical studies needed to bring them to market."

The Blueprint Neurotherapeutics Network has issued another request for applications with a deadline of Dec. 15, 2011. Given that only 10-20 percent of the compounds under investigation are likely to survive preclinical development, the network will fund as many as 20 projects, with the goal of bringing at least two to four compounds into early clinical trials. Applicants must have at least one lead compound, as well as the biological assays for evaluating derivative compounds made during the optimization process.


Contact: Daniel Stimson
NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Related medicine news :

1. 2010 What's Next Boomer Business Summit Provides the Blueprint for Successfully Marketing to Baby Boomers
2. Media detective tool empowers children to skirt alcohol and tobacco marketing messages
3. Caregiver's Touch Empowers Families with an Organizational Wellness Solution
4. Restless Josie, an Internet Adventure Travel Show, Empowers and Enlightens!
5. Penn researchers describe key molecule that keeps immune cell development on track
6. Sharing Bed With Toddler Wont Harm Development: Study
7. DNDi launches new drug development program to address treatment needs of children with HIV/AIDS
8. Binge Drinking May Impair Teen Brain Development
9. Diabetes drug may prevent or delay development of polycystic ovary syndrome
10. Many Pediatricians Arent Testing Tots for Developmental Delays
11. Tiny cell patterns reveal the progression of development and disease
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/27/2015)... , ... November 27, 2015 , ... ... the toilets were," said an inventor from Hillside, N.J. "Many people catch diseases ... cover so that individuals will always be protected from germs." , He developed ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... Consistent with the ... 2016 Building Better Radiology Marketing Programs meeting will showcase some of the ... 2016, at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas with a pre-conference session on a ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) , ... November 27, 2015 , ... ... the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) awarded accreditation to its ... exclusive list of CAAHEP accredited colleges, as only one of twelve colleges and universities ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... Marne, MI (PRWEB) , ... November 26, 2015 ... ... center for substance abuse located in central Michigan, have come together on Thanksgiving ... a specially produced video, available for viewing on the Serenity Point YouTube channel, ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... ... November 26, 2015 , ... Jobs in hospital medical laboratories and ... offered by healthcare staffing agency Aureus Medical Group . These fields, ... 2015 among those searching for healthcare jobs through the company’s website, ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/26/2015)... PUNE, India , November ... --> ... / personal emergency response system ... grow steadily for 5 years ... growing region expected to see ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... November 26, 2015 --> ... combination approach blends immunotherapy with Bremachlorin-photodynamic therapy for advanced ... approach blends immunotherapy with Bremachlorin-photodynamic therapy for advanced cancer. ... approach blends immunotherapy with Bremachlorin-photodynamic therapy for advanced cancer. ... has found that immunotherapy can be efficiently combined with ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... DUBLIN , Nov. 26, 2015 Research and ... "Asia Pacific Cardiac Pacemaker Market Outlook to 2019 - ... Drive the Demand " report to their offering. ... --> Boston scientific and others. ... global players including Medtronic, Biotronik, Boston ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: