2 February 2021

New partnership to develop drug targets for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease

Our researchers are collaborating with Verge Genomics to accelerate the validation of novel drug targets and the screening of new drug compounds for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

Scientist running drug screening in lab
  • University of Sheffield partnership with Verge Genomics aims to increase the speed at which therapeutic candidates for Parkinson’s disease may be validated and advanced to the clinic.
  • Collaboration will bring together unique expertise and technology from SITraN to validate Verge’s novel drug targets and screen compounds to identify the most promising candidates for clinical study.
  • 145,000 people in the UK are living with Parkinson’s disease and it is estimated one in 37 of us will develop it in our lifetime.

Researchers from the Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN) have, today, announced a new partnership with Verge Genomics - a drug discovery company developing therapies for neurological diseases.

The research collaboration will accelerate the biological validation of novel drug targets and the screening of new drug compounds being developed by Verge for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Through this collaboration, researchers aim to increase the speed at which therapeutic candidates may be validated and advanced to the clinic. 

“With SITraN’s deep scientific expertise and sophisticated translational assay platforms, combined with Verge Genomics drug discovery capabilities this collaboration promises to be highly productive. Together it will bring us closer to disease modifying therapeutics for patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease”, said Dr Heather Mortiboys, lead investigator at SITraN.

"This collaboration strengthens our mission to find treatments for patients with neurodegenerative diseases'' said Jane Rhodes, CBO of Verge Genomics. “We are extremely excited about the opportunity to work with Dr Heather Mortiboys at SITraN, an internationally recognised expert in Parkinson's disease, whose research in areas such as mitochondrial biology and lysosomal function very effectively complement our work at Verge.”

Verge has conducted extensive research to discover new drug targets for Parkinson’s disease, a long-term neurodegenerative disorder affecting approximately 10 million people worldwide. Parkinson’s disease affects the motor system, with patients usually presenting hand tremors as well as limb rigidity and gait and posture disturbances. While medications aimed at symptom control do exist, there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, and the disease invariably progresses with time. 

Dr Heather Mortiboys has established a large number of high throughput screening (HTS) assays investigating mitochondrial function and morphology in cells derived from patients with Parkinson’s disease. These assays are in routine use by SITraN scientists, and enable the testing of large numbers of chemical substances for biological activity more rapidly than conventional methods.

Under the research collaboration, SITraN researchers will use their unique assay technology to validate Verge’s novel drug targets and screen Verge’s drug compounds under development for Parkinson’s disease with the goal of identifying the most promising candidates for future clinical studies.

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