Academic centers, companies launch Mass. AZ R&D center

The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC), Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and five leading BioPharma companies have launched the Massachusetts Center for Alzheimer Therapeutics Science (MassCATS) to find therapies for Alzheimer’s disease.

The new center will be located at MGH.  Industry partners, including AbbVie, Biogen, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Merck and Sunovion Pharmaceuticals, have committed $1.25-million in Alzheimer’s-related research funding.

In addition, to project teams comprised academic and industry scientists working together to share knowledge and resources, bioinformatics experts on the teams are developing the MassCATS DataLens, a unique repository for sharing and analyzing large public domain data sets, as well as research data, to facilitate and accelerate data sharing.

“Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. and our focus through MassCATS is to help academic researchers and industry partners collaborate in their efforts to find a cure,” Travis McCready, president & CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, said in a statement. “MassCATS will enable research that will accelerate the development of new and more effective therapies for Alzheimer’s disease.”

Currently, there are five FDA-approved Alzheimer’s drugs that treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, temporarily helping memory and thinking problems in about half of the people who take them. However, these medications do not treat the underlying causes of Alzheimer’s.

Dr. Bradley Hyman, director, Massachusetts Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, said that in working with the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center and collaborators in the biopharmaceutical industry, investigators will have access to shared expertise and resources to accelerate the testing of new ideas while designing innovative ways to translate them toward new treatments for patients.