SITraN, Verge Partner to Develop, Advance to Trial New Therapeutic Targets

SITraN, Verge Partner to Develop, Advance to Trial New Therapeutic Targets
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The Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience, known as SITraN, has joined with Verge Genomics to develop new therapeutic targets and screen the latest compounds for the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease.

The aim of this partnership is to accelerate the validation of new therapeutic candidates for Parkinson’s and other diseases and to rapidly advance them into clinical studies.

“This collaboration strengthens our mission to find treatments for patients with neurodegenerative diseases,” Jane Rhodes, PhD, chief business officer at Verge Genomics, said in a press release.

The research collaboration will combine the expertise and technology of academia and the pharmaceutical industry to address highly complex conditions, such as Parkinson’s, the companies said.

“Together it will bring us closer to disease modifying therapeutics for patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease,” said Heather Mortiboys, PhD, lead investigator at SITraN.

Verge, a biopharmaceutical company based in San Francisco, uses systems biology to accelerate the development of new therapies for such disorders as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

These diseases are caused by complex interactions between many genes. Many therapeutic discoveries fail because researchers target only one gene at a time.

To address these issues, Verge’s platform uses patients’ genetic information to identify new therapeutic gene targets, predict effective therapies, and stratify patient sub-populations.

According to the company, this approach increases clinical success, improves patient outcomes, and lowers the cost of clinical development.

Scientists at SITraN, a worldwide research center, will contribute to the project with their assay technology. They will seek to validate Verge’s therapeutic targets and screen new compounds with the goal of identifying the most promising ones for future pharmaceutical studies.

Led by Mortiboys, SITraN’s team of researchers has extensive expertise in high throughput screening (HTS) assays, which allow investigators to rapidly screen millions of candidate molecules.

Mortiboys’ lab group is devoted to the investigation of the function of mitochondria — the powerhouse of cells — and lysosomes, which are the cell compartments responsible for digesting and recycling different types of molecules, in both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to work with Dr Heather Mortiboys at SITraN, an internationally recognised expert in Parkinson’s disease, whose research in areas such as mitochondrial biology and lysosomal function very effectively complement our work at Verge,” Rhodes said.

Added Mortiboys: “With SITraN’s deep scientific expertise and sophisticated translational assay platforms, combined with Verge Genomics drug discovery capabilities this collaboration promises to be highly productive.”

Diana holds a PhD in Biomedical Sciences, with specialization in genetics, from Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal. Her work has been focused on enzyme function, human genetics and drug metabolism.
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Ana holds a PhD in Immunology from the University of Lisbon and worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Instituto de Medicina Molecular (iMM) in Lisbon, Portugal. She graduated with a BSc in Genetics from the University of Newcastle and received a Masters in Biomolecular Archaeology from the University of Manchester, England. After leaving the lab to pursue a career in Science Communication, she served as the Director of Science Communication at iMM.
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Diana holds a PhD in Biomedical Sciences, with specialization in genetics, from Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal. Her work has been focused on enzyme function, human genetics and drug metabolism.
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