University College London is linking with Japanese pharma giant Takeda in a research deal that strives to identify and validate new target genes for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.

The three-year collaboration will focus on the discovery of genes or signalling pathways that modify neurodegenerative disease processes affecting neuronal health, such as in motor neurone disease, Huntington’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, in the hope of developing new treatments for patients.

The work, which will receive support from the National Institute for Health Research UCL Hospitals Biomedical Research Centre, will take place at Takeda’s research unit in Cambridge.

“I am delighted and excited with the potential of this initiative. It combines Takeda’s strengths in central nervous system therapeutics with our research at UCL but importantly focuses on projects with huge experimental medicine potential,” said Nicholas Wood, Neuroscience Programme Director at the NIHR UCL Hospitals Biomedical Research Centre.

“Developing new treatments for devastating neurodegenerative diseases is an absolutely essential but very challenging goal and requires the complementary expertise of academia and industry, if it is to be achieved,” added Alan Thompson, Dean of the Faculty of Brain Sciences at UCL.

The University and Takeda are no strangers to each other; last year they entered into a research agreement looking to tackle muscle disorders, in particular muscular dystrophy.