AstraZeneca is linking up with the USA’s Mayo Clinic and Virginia Tech and has licensed-in a portfolio of early-stage novel antidepressants.

Under the terms of the deal, for which financial details were not disclosed, the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker is getting the global rights to preclinical triple reuptake inhibitor compounds discovered by Mayo and Virginia Tech. The agreement includes a research collaboration to jointly generate additional novel TRI compounds.

AstraZeneca noted that current antidepressants such as selective serotonin and dual serotonin/norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors “only address the imbalances of one or two neurotransmitters in the brain”. However TRIs also act on the dopamine neurotransmitter, so the potential is there to “deliver a superior antidepressant in terms of greater efficacy and an improved side effect profile”, said Mayo’s Elliott Richelson, co-inventor of the technology.

Christer Kohler, vice president for the company’s global discovery research area focused on central nervous system and pain, said that “besides enabling us to harness the combined power of two outstanding, world-class institutions, this agreement also establishes a strong footing for AstraZeneca in the strategically important TRI research area”.