Roche and Genentech researchers plot $53M discovery quest aimed at sparking a 'Holy moly' pivot in neuro R&D
Roche and Genentech have committed $53 million to back a 10-year quest aimed at going back to the drawing board to use new technology and fresh scientific insights to generate a pipeline of drugs for neurological diseases.
Researchers from both Roche and its big South San Francisco hub — mixing teams from gRED and pRED this time — will mix it up with the scientists drawn together for the Weill Neurohub — formed in 2019 as a joint research partnership involving UCSF, Berkeley and the University of Washington — in an exploration of the field to develop new therapies for some of the toughest diseases in drug R&D: Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, ALS and autism.
Roche has had plenty of setbacks to report on that front over the years, like every other big player that’s committed large sums to diseases that afflict millions of people around the world. And the crew here appears committed to finding drugs that can do more than influence symptoms or slightly bend the curve of disease progression. They’ve all voted to back a long-awaited revolution.
“This partnership is not about picking off the low-hanging fruit — it’s about transforming the treatment of neurological and psychiatric disease, which will require long-term investment and the flexibility to go where the science guides us,” says neuro expert Stephen Hauser from UCSF.
“While all these diseases of the brain or CNS are incredibly challenging,” said Ehud Isacoff, professor of Neurobiology at UC Berkeley, “it is really hard to imagine that significant progress will not be made in each of these areas, because the scientific expertise and passion across the teams are so strong. What I am hoping for is that some of these things lead to a breakthrough where, eventually, we are looking back a decade or two from now and saying, ‘Holy moly! That is when we turned the corner on neurological disease.’ That’s the dream.”