UCB and CNCR join forces targeting genetic epilepsy syndromes

29 June 2021

The global biopharmaceutical company UCB and an FGA team led by Ruud Toonen signed a 700k€ contract for joint research to develop new treatment strategies for genetic epilepsy syndromes.

Epileptic seizures are important symptoms of several major brain disorders, including intellectual disability, learning disorders, autism spectrum disorder and behavioral abnormalities. Synaptic dysfunction is a central aspect of these diseases leading to disturbed excitation/inhibition balance and dysfunction of neuronal networks. Current treatments are limited to symptomatic medications that provide limited relief and cause unpredictable and adverse side effects.

At FGA, we have worked on genetic epilepsies caused by mutations in genes that organize the secretion of chemical signals in the brain (SNAREopathies)1 since Matthijs Verhage created the first SNAREopathy mouse model in the late 1990s2. Together with Ruud Toonen and others, they previously created several new mouse models before moving to Amsterdam. At VU/VUmc, the research was further expanded, also incorporating studies on patient cohorts and human cell models and initiating interactions with pharma companies to seek better treatments for genetic epilepsy syndromes and other SNAREopathies.

After previous fruitful collaborations between FGA and UCB, both teams now came to an agreement to develop treatment strategies for genetic epilepsy syndromes in the coming 2 years. On the FGA side Hanna Lammertse will manage the project.

1Verhage and Sorensen 2020, Neuron
2Verhage et al 2000, Science

About UCB
UCB, Brussels, Belgium (Website UCB) is a global biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of innovative medicines and solutions to transform the lives of people living with severe diseases of the immune system or of the central nervous system. With approximately 8 400 people in nearly 40 countries, the company generated revenue of € 5.3 billion in 2020. UCB is listed on Euronext Brussels.