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VHIR signs agreement with Prous Institute to combat Parkinson’s Disease

2015 Sep 15 |

The Neurodegenerative Diseases group will assess a group of pharmacological compounds that induce autophagy in the lab and in animal models.

Barcelona.  The Neurodegenerative Diseases Group of Vall d’Hebron Institute of Research (VHIR) has signed an agreement with Prous Institute for Biomedical Research to assess in in vivo and in vitro models of Parkinson’s disease a group of drugs that induce autophagy, the process of the cells to dispose intracellular waste.

Five years ago, VHIR researchers found a defect in the waste disposal system of patients with Parkinson’s disease. In particular, they determined that the neuronal cells of these patients present fewer lysosomes for intracellular degradation. This causes the accumulation of toxic proteins, called Lewy bodies, which can induce the neuronal death.

In this collaboration, VHIR researchers, led by Dr. Miquel Vila and Dr. Marta Martínez-Vicente, aim to assess the potential neuroprotective effects of novel autophagy-inducing pharmacological compounds developed and patented by Prous Institute. “If we try to reactivate the mechanisms of intracellular waste disposal, we could remove the toxic proteins that neurons accumulate over the years in neurodegenerative diseases and thus maintain neuronal function and prevent or delay the death of these cells”, explains Dr. Vila.

On the other side, the president of Prous Institute for Biomedical Research, Dr. J. R. Prous, is very pleased to have signed this agreement. “Thanks to the combination of our bioinformatics systems and the experimental validations that will be carried out at VHIR, we will be able to advance the research into more effective and safer treatments in the field of Parkinson’s disease and to extend them to other pathologies of the central nervous system”.

The drugs that VHIR will test have been obtained through the Symmetry platform, developed by Prous. This system integrates computational tools and methods aiming to replicate in silico the processes through which new drugs are discovered, developed and approved. Symmetry is used by major pharmaceutical companies and enables the generation of new research hypotheses and elucidates the pharmacological and safety profile of small molecules through a wide range of predictive models.

About Prous Institute

Prous Institute for Biomedical Research was founded as a spin-off from the leading scientific information provider Prous Science (creator of brands such as Integrity, MDDR, Drugs of the Future, Drug Data Report, Drugs of Today, Drug News and Perspectives, Methods and Findings in Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology and Timely Topics in Medicine), acquired by Thomson Reuters in 2007, in order to put into practice innovative in silico approaches to accelerate drug discovery.

About VHIR

Vall d’Hebron Research Institute (VHIR) was founded in 1994 and is part of the Hospital Universitari Vall d’Hebron and the Institut Català de la Salut. It is a center CERCA of the Department of Economia i Coneixement of the Generalitat, and a university research institute attached to the Universitat Autònoma of Barcelona.