News ArchivesRead News

Breakthrough technology for testing Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s drugs

Thursday February 18, 2010

news@Northwestern - In a breakthrough development for early drug research, Northeastern University scientists are now able to test, in real time, the impact of new drugs being developed to treat neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

A patented new imaging technology developed by Northeastern’s Center for Translational NeuroImaging (CTNI) enables researchers to produce highly accurate data without resorting to traditional preclinical testing methods. Those methods involve euthanizing laboratory animals at different stages of the study to assess disease progression and the effectiveness of the drug.

“Animal imaging is crucial in early drug discovery, but the use of anesthesia creates an artificial situation that can mask true drug activity,” said Craig Ferris, CTNI director and professor of psychology and pharmaceutical sciences. “Studying awake animals leads to improved drug safety evaluations and data accuracy.”

Ferris noted the testing they are now able to perform at CTNI maximizes accuracy and leads to improved drug development processes for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies that are working to treat central nervous system diseases, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

The center’s imaging-based preclinical testing is performed under the aegis of a new business venture, called Ekam Imaging, Inc., founded by a team that includes Ferris and Graham Jones, professor and chair of the department of chemistry and chemical biology at Northeastern.

The technology has spawned eight patents focused on the imaging of animals and a new method for tagging drugs using microwave-mediated organic synthesis technology. This procedure allows injected compounds to be more accurately tracked and evaluated for efficacy.

Additionally, the center uses advanced data-analysis techniques, including three-dimensional brain “atlases” used for data visualization, and imaging models of various disease conditions.

“The advantages of our technology give researchers the ability to provide information and analysis to drug companies that enable them to make more informed go/no-go decisions on their drug development programs,” added Ferris. “It will help reduce the time to market for new therapeutics and lower the overall cost of drug development.”

Recent News

Oct 2 - A New Attack on Parkinson's Disease
Oct 2 - Antipsychotics for Parkinson's Psychosis May Be Dangerous
Sep 27 - The beginning of the end? The race for a Parkinson’s cure
Sep 23 - Scientists map Parkinson's spread in brain
Sep 22 - Understanding Parkinson's Disease: An Interview with Jon Palfreman
Sep 22 - Living with Lewy Body Dementia
Sep 21 - Adults with autism likely to develop Parkinson’s disease, says study
Sep 16 - Everyday activity more beneficial than occasional strenuous exercise for Parkinson’s disease
Sep 14 - UNC scientists create smarter immune cells to treat Parkinson's disease
Sep 9 - A newly discovered brain disease may point to something disturbing about Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
Sep 7 - Treatment for Parkinson's could replace surgery
Sep 4 - Asthma May Influence Risk of Parkinson's Disease
Sep 4 - Researchers Explore Memory Problems Related to Parkinson's
Sep 3 - Press Release: ACADIA Pharmaceuticals Submits New Drug Application for NUPLAZID™ for the Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease Psychosis
Aug 28 - Brain cells 'burn out' in Parkinson's disease
Aug 24 - Study Details Process Involved in Parkinson’s Disease
Aug 24 - Google Reveals Gigantic Ambitions To Fight Cancer, Diabetes, Parkinson's, Heart Problems
Aug 20 - Two proteins work together to help cells eliminate trash; Parkinson's may result
Aug 17 - Scientists visualize critical part of basal ganglia pathways
Aug 17 - VA benefits office seeks all vets exposed to Agent Orange