Zeltia says that a consortium led by its Neuropharma unit has received approval from the Spanish government’s Industrial Technology Development Centre (CDTI) for a new R&D project called Melius.The Melius project will focus on the application of new technological advances made in areas such as proteomics, genomics and cytomics to improve the translational prediction of non-clinical assays. The other Spanish drugmakers involved in the consortium include another Zeltia unit, PharmaMar, Faes Farma, and Rovi, as well as the biotechnology groups Progenika, Proteomika, OWL Genomics and NewBiotechnic. The companies had originally proposed a budget of 22 million euros for the Melius project but a Zeltia spokesman told pharmatimes world news that the CDTI lowered that sum to 20.5 million euros and agreed to put up 49% of the cash, or more than 10 million euros. The firms, who will make up the rest of the budget, praised the Spanish government for its recognition of the importance of innovative projects in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology field.Neuropharma Alzheimer’s compound to enter clinicZeltia has also announced that Neuropharma expects to begin Phase I trials of a compound to help treat neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s before the end of the first half of the year. Animal model studies show that NP-61 was able to reverse cognitive deficits and prevent amyloid plaques forming in the brains of transgenic mice.Neuropharma has already started clinical tests on another anti-Alzheimer’s compound, NP-12, which entered Phase I trials at the beginning of 2006.