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UCSF and Genentech Team Up to Study Small Molecules

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The University of California, San Francisco, and Roche Group subsidiary Genentech have signed an agreement to collaborate in the discovery and development of drug candidates for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.

Genentech will provide the funding for the venture, which will focus on small molecules to target specific proteins or enzymes, modulate biochemical or cellular processes, and have the potential to alter disease states. "Genentech is working on building its expertise in neuroscience research," says company spokeswoman Caroline Pecquet.

A team of Genentech researchers will be working with several scientists at the UCSF Small Molecule Discovery Center, led by Jim Wells, to develop a drug candidate based on Genentech discoveries and prior research conducted at UCSF.

In addition to Genentech's initial financial support, UCSF has the potential for further funding in excess of $13 million from the company if certain development and commercial milestones are met. The university also has the right to certain royalties. Genentech and UCSF both declined to disclose details of the developments or milestones.

The collaboration between the two is an extension of a master research agreement they reached in 2005. Genentech and UCSF have already worked together on research in the fields of asthma and oncology, Pecquet says.

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