Mechelen, Belgium and Calabasas Hills, CA, USA; 11 December 2006 – Galapagos NV (Euronext & LSE: GLPG) and The ALS Association, a non-profit health organization dedicated to finding a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), announced today a new two-year target discovery alliance. Galapagos’ service division BioFocus DPI will apply its adenoviral platform to identify drug targets for the development of new ALS therapies. Under the terms of the agreement, Galapagos may receive up to €2.4 million ($3 million) from The ALS Association. In addition, Galapagos has the option to further develop certain targets identified in the program.
Key to the identification of ALS targets is the cell model representing the disease process in ALS. In this project, BioFocus DPI will screen its adenoviral SilenceSelect collection in human motor neurons. BioFocus DPI will use the PluriCell human pluripotent stem cell platform and expertise from Stem Cell Innovations for this screening. PluriCells have the potential to aid in drug discovery, toxicology, and cell therapy. These human stem cells can be differentiated into motor neurons which will be used in this program as the cell system for functional selection of ALS drug targets using the SilenceSelect collection.
“We are proud to work with The ALS Association in the fight against ALS,” said Onno van de Stolpe, CEO of Galapagos. “This alliance builds on both our CNS expertise and on our strong franchise in working with non-profit health organizations to identify disease-modifying drug targets for unmet medical needs.”
This funding from The ALS Association’s translational program, Translational Research Advancing Therapy for ALS (TREAT ALS), is the largest to date focused on drug development. TREAT ALS seeks new avenues to therapeutics and puts into place a clinical trials process that will be ready when any new candidates are identified. Several pilot clinical trials of existing candidates are already underway with TREAT ALS funding.
“We see this alliance with Galapagos as an important initiative within The ALS Association’s mission to find a cure for and improve living with ALS,” said Dr. Lucie Bruijn, Science Director and Vice President at The ALS Association. “Galapagos’ target discovery engine gives us new inroads toward developing medicines that may stop ALS.”
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s disease,” is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain through the spinal cord on to the muscles throughout the body. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to death of the patient. Yet, through it all, for the vast majority of people, their minds remain unaffected. Although a small percentage of ALS cases is genetically inherited, incidence of ALS is mainly sporadic. ALS affects more than 30,000 Americans, most of whom are between 40-70 years of age. At this time, the cost of medical care for ALS patients is exceedingly high.
About The ALS Association
The ALS Association (ALSA) is the only U.S. not-for-profit health organization dedicated solely to the fight against ALS. ALSA covers all the bases – research, patient and community services, public education, and advocacy – in providing help and hope to those facing the disease. The mission of ALSA is to find a cure for and improve living with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. More information about ALSA can be found at www.also.org.
Galapagos is a publicly traded, genomics-based drug discovery company (Euronext Brussels, GLPG; Euronext Amsterdam, GLPGA; London AiM: GLPG) that has drug discovery programs based on proprietary, novel targets in bone and joint diseases – osteoarthritis, osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis. Galapagos offers a full suite of target-to-drug discovery products and services to pharmaceutical and biotech companies through its division BioFocus DPI, encompassing target discovery and drug discovery services through to delivery of pre-clinical candidates. In addition, BioFocus DPI provides adenoviral reagents for rapid identification and validation of novel drug targets, compound libraries for drug screening as well as chemogenomics and ADME database products to select targets and compounds. Galapagos currently employs more than 380 people and operates facilities in seven countries, with global headquarters in Mechelen, Belgium. More information about Galapagos and BioFocus DPI can be found at www.glpg.com.
Onno van de Stolpe, CEO
Tel: +31 6 2909 8028
The ALS Association
Jeff Snyder, vice president, communications
Tel: +1 818 880 9007
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SilenceSelect® is a registered trademark of Galapagos NV and/or its affiliates.
PluriCells(TM) is a trademark of Stem Cell Innovations, Inc.