Grand Rapids Firm to Develop Drugs to Treat Schizophrenia

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A Grand Rapids drug discovery firm has joined with Cambridge, Mass.-based Broad Institute’s Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research to test treatments for schizophrenia.

The partnership, which allows Tetra Discovery Partners LLC to test its drug candidates using the Stanley Center’s collection of DNA samples from patients with schizophrenia, gives Tetra’s program the highest chance of success, says Mark Gurney, founder and CEO of Tetra.

“This collaboration … has brought together significant resources and people to discover the next generation of drugs to treat major psychiatric diseases,” Gurney says. “There is a need to better predict the potential efficacy of drugs with new mechanisms of action in translational models, and to better select patients for clinical trials. The team at the Stanley Center understands this challenge.”

Schizophrenia is a group of severe brain disorders characterized by three types of symptoms, positive (hallucinations, delusions), negative (lack of affect or emotions), and cognitive (attention, working memory). The only therapeutics approved by the FDA for this disorder is for the positive symptoms; there are no drugs approved for the cognitive symptoms, Gurney says.

“The Stanley Center is pleased to work with an innovative young company like Tetra to better understand the potential of their compounds for treating memory impairment in schizophrenia,” says Dr. Edward Scolnick, chief scientific officer of the Stanley Center. “There is a need to evaluate new drugs with new mechanisms of action in serious psychiatric diseases. We welcome the opportunity to work with Tetra to lay the groundwork to help meet that need.”

A drug could be advanced into human clinical trials as early as next year, Gurney says. 

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