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Keapstone Therapeutics launched in world-first partnership to develop new drugs for Parkinson’s

03 Mar 17

The University of Sheffield and Parkinson’s UK have launched a new £1million virtual biotech company in the next stage[1] of a pioneering research programme to create new drugs for Parkinson’s.

In a partnership that is the first of its kind, Keapstone Therapeutics will combine world-leading research from the University with funding and expertise from the charity to help develop revolutionary drugs for Parkinson’s, which affects around 127,000 people in the UK.

Although similar partnerships between charities and research specialists have been formed in the past, this is the first time a charity has directly approached researchers to launch a spin-out company with the aim of advancing one particular research programme.

The creation of Keapstone Therapeutics is part of Parkinson’s UK’s new Virtual Biotech venture, formed to combat the lost opportunities in drug discovery and early clinical development caused by the changing pharma landscape. It allows the charity to work virtually – providing leadership and critical funding, in partnership with a range of other organisations that have the facilities and staff to carry out scientific work on a contract basis.

Keapstone is the first ‘single-asset’ spin-out company to be created in this way and it ensures that, if successful, the research is in the best possible position to receive investment – allowing immediate progress towards clinical trials. The structure of the set-up also means that Parkinson’s UK and The University of Sheffield will each retain a stake in any future developments.

Director of Research at Parkinson’s UK, Arthur Roach, said: “Due to the funding gap in early stage drug discovery, there are promising scientific breakthroughs for Parkinson’s happening every day that are not being picked up and developed by commercial companies.

“This major new programme of work will allow us to act in a similar way to a small biotech company. However, unlike a commercial company, our primary goal is the creation of new treatments to improve the lives of people with Parkinson’s, regardless of commercial considerations.

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