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Working to scuttle schizophrenia
TOKYO—Taisho Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. in early January signed a definitive agreement with New York-based Pfizer Inc. for an almost worldwide collaboration to research, develop and commercialize TS-032, a new schizophrenia drug candidate discovered by Taisho. The compound is currently in preclinical development, and the agreement signed last month replaces the letter of intent previously signed between the companies.
Through the definitive license agreement Taisho will grant exclusive development and commercialization rights for TS-032 to Pfizer, except in Japan. Under the agreement, Taisho will receive from Pfizer an initial payment of $22 million. Taisho will also receive milestone payments tied to progress of development, as well as royalties and milestone payments tied to sales if TS-032 is approved by regulatory authorities and launched.
"Schizophrenia is among the most chronic and disabling of mental health conditions and there still remains a significant need for novel treatment advances with improved efficacy and fewer side effects," says Dr. Martin Mackay, president of Pfizer Global Research and Development. "Pfizer has a long-standing strength in developing and commercializing medications for the treatment of psychiatric illnesses, including Zoloft, Xanax and Geodon. This agreement highlights our commitment to pursue opportunities that align strategically with our key development priorities and strengthen our pipeline."
TS-032 is a novel metabotropic glutamate receptor (mGluR) agonist that may offer a new treatment option for central nervous system disorders. Although the characteristics of mGluR are still only partly understood, mGluR is believed to play a role in the transmission of glutamate and other substances in the brain. Abnormalities in the neurotransmission through mGluR may be one cause for symptoms related to schizophrenia as well as other CNS disorders. Data show that mGluR agonists, such as TS-032, offer potential as new treatments for schizophrenia.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than 2 million Americans alone suffer from schizophrenia. Treatments are available to
relieve some of the disease's symptoms but it can be difficult to treat and the NIMH estimates that only one in five patients recover completely.