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AstraZeneca, UT Southwestern Medical Center Collaborate To Combat Psychiatric Illness

Armen Hareyan's picture

Depression is one of the leading causes of disability in the United States, affecting approximately 14.8 million adults or about 6.7 percent of the population age 18 and older in a given year. In Texas alone, an estimated 441,488 people are living with depression. While some effective treatment options exist, only half of all patients with depression are fully treated with available therapies. Hence, a high need still remains for safe, effective and sustainable new medicines to manage this serious mental health condition.

To address this growing problem, AstraZeneca announced that it will collaborate with the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center to accelerate scientific discovery and therapeutic advancement for depression. Scientists from both institutions will work together, leveraging unique insights and resources to further the understanding and ultimately, the treatment, of this illness.

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"AstraZeneca is committed to delivering medicines that make a difference in patients' lives. AstraZeneca also has long-standing commitment to mental health and sustained investment in research to better understand the neuroscience of depression," said Frank D. Yocca, Ph.D., Vice President, CNS and Pain Research, AstraZeneca. "This collaboration with UT Southwestern will allow our scientists and theirs to share knowledge and resources, and work together to explore new pathways and genetic targets for disease management." Dr. Eric J. Nestler, professor and chairman of psychiatry at UT Southwestern, will direct this effort on behalf of UT Southwestern. A leader in psychiatric research, Dr. Nestler and his colleagues investigate the biology of stress adaptation, resilience and depression. His molecular psychiatry laboratory has produced important advances in the development of new disease models that have increased understanding of the neurochemical basis for depression.

"This relationship is exciting as it supports our fundamental research that we hope can ultimately be translated into real medicines that address unmet medical need in psychiatry," said Dr. Nestler. "This agreement represents collaboration in every sense of the word. Our scientists will work jointly with AstraZeneca scientists to share ideas, expertise and approaches with the goal of advancing science and the search for new medicines."

AstraZeneca and UT Southwestern have agreed to a three-year collaboration. This is the first of several planned new alliances between AstraZeneca and leading academic institutions to address unmet medical needs through cutting- edge research across several disease areas, including Alzheimer's disease, chronic pain and psychiatric illnesses. These proposed new agreements complement existing US-based collaborations in neuroscience with world-class institutions such as Yale University and the University of Pennsylvania.