Tapping UCSF Invention, Roche and Versant Dive Into Myelin Repair

Jonah Chan, PhD

Note: UCSF investigator Jonah Chan participated in CTSI's Catalyst Awards program, which provided early funding and development advise to help advance his novel screening platform. His technology has since been out-licensed and will be used to screen for new MS drugs.

By Alex Lash via Xconomy.com

When mice chew through the insulation that protects a house’s wires, an electrician can repair the wires. People with multiple sclerosis, whose immune systems malfunction and attack the insulation of their own neural wires, don’t have that option. Helping them could be a very big deal in MS care.

Swiss drug giant Roche, tapping into an unorthodox business model created by a San Francisco venture group, wants to find treatments to help. Roche and Versant Ventures have created the oddly named Inception 5—we’ll explain the name later—to house a promising new way to look for multiple sclerosis drugs, a high-throughput screen developed at the University of California, San Francisco.

Roche will contribute its vast libraries of compounds to test in the UCSF assay, and a seasoned team of drug discovery scientists in the employ of Versant’s Inception group will also try to design new compounds.

Repairing the neural insulation is called remyelination. Myelin is the substance that makes up the sheaths, and it’s also what the immune system mistakes for a pathogen. The attack leaves holes in the myelin, and like a house with faulty wiring, the patient’s nervous system starts to short-circuit, leading to a wide and unpredictable range of neurological symptoms.

Read Full Story at Xconomy.com

Also, read Innovative Research Tool Pinpoints Potential Therapies for Multiple Sclerosis at UCSF.edu