Eisai is setting up a "major drug discovery and development collaboration" with University College London focusing on neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other related disorders.

The partners say that this will be the first time that joint research is to be conducted by a partnership involving a public institution in the UK and a pharmaceutical company.  Specifcally, UCL and Eisai will form a therapeutic innovation group (TIG) which will comprise experienced scientists from both bodies which will also be responsible for "the co-development of completely new research areas of interest".

Lynn Kramer, president of Eisai's neuroscience product creation unit, said diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s "represent a significant unmet medical need due to lack of effective treatments that can prevent disease progression". He added that "in this unique collaboration, we hope our complementary expertise will identify potential new drug targets".

Manufacturing pact with Biogen in USA

Meantime, across the Atlantic, Biogen Idec has leased a portion of Eisai's facility in Research Triangle Park (RTP) in North Carolina to manufacture oral solid dose products for both companies.

The 10-year lease agreement gives Biogen the option to purchase the plant. Some 50 Eisai personnel are expected to become Biogen employees in early 2013, building on the company’s RTP workforce which 1,000 in 2012. The Japanese drugmaker currently employs 225 full-time employees at its RTP site.

Lou Arp, general manager of the Eisai site and president of global oncology manufacturing,  said the alliance "will enable both companies to focus on respective areas of expertise". He added that "employees will benefit by working in a highly collaborative environment that offers opportunities to further cultivate their careers".

Both companies have operated manufacturing facilities in RTP since the mid-1990s and the president of the foundation that runs the area, Bob Geolas, said the alliance is "an illustration of the type of collaboration we encourage and foresee becoming more commonplace".