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UCB teams up with charity to beat treatment-resistant epilepsy in $2.5m partnership

Published on 11/02/19 at 11:23am

Belgian firm UCB Pharma has announced a new partnership with the charity Epilepsy Society which will see the pair invest $2.5 million over the next five years as part of a project to develop greater understanding of the pathology of epilepsy and how to effectively treat treatment-resistant patients with the condition.

Both partners chose to launch the collaboration on 11 February to mark International Epilepsy Day. Using technical advances such as machine learning, genome sequencing and genetic biomarker analysis, the project will principally focus on building greater understanding of what drives treatment resistance in epilepsy, leveraging the Epilepsy Society’s wealth of clinical data derived from its Chalfont Centre in Buckinghamshire, UK, which offers tertiary care to patients with severe and uncontrolled forms of the condition.

In its first stages, this data will be harnessed in order to determine the factors involved in drug response to epilepsy, with a particular focus on the role played by genetics. The later stages of work will seek to integrate different and varied datasets to understand how they interact. The hope is that better treatments can be developed based on individual patient needs and genetic characteristics.

Clare Pelham, Chief Executive of the Epilepsy Society, also commented: “Our goal is that epilepsy should be as insignificant in a person's life as perhaps having freckles - no impediment to living a full life, driving a car or holding down a demanding job. We really believe that genomics gives us the tools to make this a reality and we are delighted to be collaborating with UCB, bringing together our cutting-edge science and world class technology.

“Advances in genomics present exciting potential for a paradigm shift in epilepsy,” explained Professor Sanjay Sisodiya, Professor of Neurology at UCL and the Epilepsy Society's Director of Genomics. “We hope to use them to gain a much better understanding of the disease trajectory, improving diagnosis and treatment for people living with epilepsy. Our hope is that by embracing genomics we will be able to provide personalised care for patients, eventually helping us to identify the right treatment, first time.”

Matt Fellows

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