Tetra Discovery Partners LLC, a leader in the design of new treatments for major neurological conditions based on PDE4 modulation in the brain, today announced it has been awarded a five-year cooperative agreement by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).The award will support Tetra's efforts to develop a new drug to treat mild cognitive impairment, which is typically associated with aging and often precedes and accompanies Alzheimer's disease.
Tetra's award includes up to $1.5 million in direct funding and access to millions of additional dollars worth of contracted research services; the Company estimates that the total value of the NIH award to be worth at least $10 million over the project's anticipated five-year period. The award was made through the Blueprint Neurotherapeutics Network (BPN), a recently launched NIH initiative involving the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the National Institute of Aging. Under the terms of its cooperative agreement with NIH, Tetra will retain the intellectual property related to its research and be responsible for the commercialization of the new drug.
Tetra's research focuses on designing drugs that inhibit phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4), a key enzyme in the brain that controls the biochemical process of memory. The compounds designed by Tetra act like a type of molecular glue, closing a "lid" over the PDE4 catalytic site. This innovative approach to preventing the enzyme from functioning has been shown to improve efficacy and tolerability over previous compounds that simply inhibit the enzyme altogether. Tetra's NIH-funded work will focus on developing a treatment for mild cognitive impairment (MCI), which includes memory difficulties as well as other changes in thinking skills and sequencing tasks. The subtle cognitive decline associated with MCI may also precede the development of Alzheimer's disease, often by many years, and can affect an individual's ability to work, hold a job and cope with daily activities.
Launched in 2011, the BPN program has been fostered by NIH Director Francis S. Collins, with support from the Institutes' other directors, as part of the agency's heightened emphasis on translational medicine. It marks a first-of-its-kind collaboration for NIH, enabling award recipients to leverage resources across 15 agency institutes and centers, as well as the expertise of outside consultants and contractors, and involves making a total of $50 million in funding available to selected academic and industry-based researchers. Tetra is the first award recipient to be notified in the program's second year and one of only a few non-academic teams accepted to date.