Bayer Intensifies Research in Early Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease
Licensing agreement with Nagasaki University signed
Berlin, Nagasaki (Japan) – Bayer Schering Pharma and the University of Nagasaki (Japan) have signed a licensing agreement on the use of novel substances for molecular imaging. Being used as tracers in Positron Emission Tomography (PET), these compounds could make it possible to allow an early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. According to the agreement, Bayer Schering Pharma will receive exclusive worldwide rights to develop and market a set of radiolabeled molecules.
“We are delighted to have Bayer Schering Pharma as a strong partner for our research and development in the field of molecular imaging,” said Professor Morio Nakayama Ph. D. from the Division of Hygienic Chemistry and Toxicology, Department of Environmental and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Nagasaki University Graduate School of Biomedical Science. “This cooperation demonstrates the high quality scientific output of the university, and I believe this to be a result of the Organization for Industry, University, and Government Cooperations, which was established after the university was incorporated.
I hope the university’s efforts with the developed molecular imaging agents contribute to the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.”
“It is our pleasure to cooperate with Nagasaki University, which has advanced technological skills. This agreement further supports our long-standing commitment to develop innovative substances for precise and early diagnosis of diseases on the molecular level, and it enhances our existing project portfolio in the field of molecular imaging for Alzheimer’s disease,” explained Prof. Dr. Hans Maier, Head of Diagnostic Imaging at Bayer Schering Pharma.
Tracers labeled with fluorine-18 (F18), a short-lived radioisotope, are used in Positron Emission Tomography (PET). This nuclear medicine imaging technique can be used, for example, to produce images of molecular processes involved in diseases of the central nervous system. For instance, PET tracers bind specifically to amyloid beta, a pathological accumulation of protein in the brain that is causally associated with Alzheimer’s disease. F18-labeled PET tracers could enable the detection of disease signs at a very early stage. This could expand the opportunities for the diagnosis of neurodegenerative diseases.
In the field of molecular imaging, Bayer Schering Pharma’s most advanced development project Bay 94-9172 has recently entered Phase II of clinical development.
The medical background
Representative global epidemiological studies suggest that the number of people currently suffering from dementia amounts to approximately 24 million worldwide. Another 4.6 million new cases accrue each year. The number of patients affected by dementia doubles every 20 years, therefore this figure is likely to rise to approximately 80 million by 2040. Approximately 50 to 75 percent of these cases are related to Alzheimer’s disease.
At present, a definite diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease can only be made after death through autopsy. The diagnostic possibilities for a reliable clinical diagnosis are complex and limited. There is a high medical need for a simple, non-invasive imaging technique to assist the clinician in the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or to help to rule out this devastating disease, respectively. Such diagnostic tool would be of great medical significance regarding both the clinical decision on therapeutic options for affected patients as well as the patients and their families themselves. A development that allows diagnosis at the earliest stage possible would be particularly beneficial. Also, this kind of diagnostic process would be helpful in the development of new disease-modulating treatments.
Molecular imaging at Bayer Schering Pharma
Molecular imaging comprises diagnostic procedures that in particular allow the detection of diseases on a cellular and molecular level, potentially even before becoming clinically manifest. Such procedures are expected to provide not only earlier but also more accurate detection of, for example, tumors and disorders of the central nervous system. In the field of molecular imaging, Bayer Schering Pharma is pursuing promising approaches with innovative tracer molecules that bind highly specifically to certain cell structures and molecules. This will facilitate the development of procedures for visualizing disease-specific biological processes on a molecular level. The diagnosis of neurodegenerative, oncological and cardiovascular diseases is the company’s main research focus. Bayer Schering Pharma maintains various research cooperations in the field of molecular imaging, for example with Stanford University as well as ETH Zurich. Nagasaki University is a new, strong addition to the research cooperation network of academic institutions and industry already in place.
About Bayer Schering Pharma
The Bayer Group is a global enterprise with core competencies in the fields of health care, nutrition and high-tech materials. Bayer HealthCare, a subsidiary of Bayer AG, is one of the world’s leading, innovative companies in the healthcare and medical products industry and is based in Leverkusen, Germany. The company combines the global activities of the Animal Health, Consumer Care, Diabetes Care and Pharmaceuticals divisions. The pharmaceuticals business operates under the name Bayer Schering Pharma. Bayer HealthCare’s aim is to discover and manufacture products that will improve human and animal health worldwide. Find more information at www.bayerhealthcare.com.
Bayer Schering Pharma is a worldwide leading specialty pharmaceutical company. Its research and business activities are focused on the following areas: Diagnostic Imaging, General Medicine, Specialty Medicine and Women’s Healthcare. With innovative products, Bayer Schering Pharma aims for leading positions in specialized markets worldwide. Using new ideas, Bayer Schering Pharma aims to make a contribution to medical progress and strives to improve the quality of life. Find more information at www.bayerscheringpharma.de.
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