FutureNeuro announces collaboration with Janssen to conduct pre-clinical studies on potential disease-modifying therapies targeting neuroinflammation

Joint research will evaluate in preclinical models the impact of compounds on inflammation in the brain, which is thought to be an underlying mechanism of epilepsy

FutureNeuro, the SFI Research Centre for Chronic and Rare Neurological diseases based at RCSI, Dublin, has announced a new collaboration with the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson to jointly pursue research to reduce neuroinflammation in regions of the brain associated with triggering seizures. Of the 60 million people affected by epilepsy in the world, a third of patients continue to have active, uncontrolled seizures, and there remains a significant unmet need for novel treatments for drug-resistant epilepsy.

Recent studies have uncovered the specific signals that start the process, which involve the P2X7 receptor, on the surface of certain brain cells. By blocking this pathway, both neuroinflammation and seizures may be reduced. Neuroinflammation is also believed to block the effectiveness of drugs used to treat epilepsy. Neuroinflammation is understood to contribute to the development of various brain-related diseases. Beyond epilepsy, this research has potential applications for neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases, including mood disorders and Alzheimer’s disease.

A dedicated team of neuroscientists at the FutureNeuro SFI Research Centre in RCSI will collaborate on the two-year research project with Janssen R&D teams in Belgium and the USA.

Epilepsy is the third leading contributor to the global burden of disease for neurological disorders. When not effectively managed, the condition can lead to mood and psychiatric disorders, cognitive deficits and potential brain damage. More effective treatments for epilepsy would potentially have transformative effects on the quality of life and health outcomes of people who currently are unresponsive to available treatments.

FutureNeuro, funded by Science Foundation Ireland, aims to deliver advances in understanding disease initiation and progress. With this understanding, and through industry partnerships, new technologies and solutions for the treatment, diagnosis and monitoring of chronic and rare neurological diseases will be developed.