ST. LOUIS – The Washington University School of Medicine has teamed up with a Japan-based company to explore potential treatments for neurodegenerative disorders like Alzhemier’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

WashU and pharmaceutical firm Eisai Co. Ltd. have formed a comprehensive research collaboration in the effort. The organizations have previously partnered for Alzheimer’s clinical trials.

Over the next five years, the organizations aim to create multiple novel therapeutic candidates and identify novel biomarkers of neurodegeneration, per a WashU news release.

“Washington University School of Medicine is a global leader in neuroscience research, and we’re expanding support for translating such research discoveries into therapies that can have a direct and meaningful impact on patients’ lives,” said David H. Perlmutter, MD, the George and Carol Bauer Endowed Dean of the School of Medicine. “Our collaboration with Eisai enhances our bench-to-bedside drug discovery pipeline for neurodegenerative conditions.”

“Patients living with neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, struggle with critical unmet medical needs, which is the reason neurology is a key therapeutic area for Eisai,” said Dr. Teiji Kimura, Ph.D., Academia and Industry Alliance Officer via another news release. “By collaborating with world-leading research institutions such as Washington University in St. Louis, Eisai is working to fulfill our human health care mission and provide potential new and targeted disease-modifying therapies with the ultimate goal of achieving a world free of neurodegenerative disease.”  

Alzheimer’s will be the main focus for the new drug discovery collaboration. It’s one of several neurodegenerative conditions without a cure. Neurodegeneration occurs when cells in the nervous system stop working or die.