Scientist working in the Assay Development and Drug Discovery Core at Gladstone Institutes.

CNDAP and Takeda have entered into a research collaboration to develop small molecules targeting tau, a protein involved in Alzheimer’s disease. This partnership leverages technologies developed in the Assay Development and Drug Discovery Core at Gladstone, shown here.


Cure Network Dolby Acceleration Partners LLC (CNDAP) and Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited (“Takeda”) have entered into a research collaboration to develop small molecules targeting tau, a protein involved in Alzheimer’s disease and other major brain disorders. Takeda has committed undisclosed financial and in-kind support to this drug development effort, which will leverage critical know-how and innovative technologies developed by Gladstone Institutes.

Millions of people in the US and around the world who are suffering from, or are at risk to develop, Alzheimer’s disease are desperately seeking new solutions to prevent or stop the devastating effects of this disease. Currently available treatments are inadequate and more effective strategies are needed urgently.

The new collaboration between CNDAP and Takeda will help address this critical need. It builds on discoveries made by a team of scientists led by Lennart Mucke, MD, director of the Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease. Their research has yielded novel insights into tau biology. They have also developed informative experimental models and innovative assays to identify and evaluate drugs that can reduce overall tau levels in neurons.

Lennart Mucke, investigator at Gladstone Institutes

The new drug development program builds on novel insights into tau biology discovered in the lab of Lennart Mucke.

Researchers in academia and industry alike have become increasingly interested in this therapeutic strategy, as evidence has been mounting that tau promotes the development of Alzheimer’s disease and other brain disorders, and as many strategies targeting amyloid proteins have failed in clinical trials.

Mucke works closely with Anke Meyer-Franke, PhD, director of the Assay Development and Drug Discovery Core at Gladstone. Together, they developed a unique assay that makes it possible to screen thousands of chemical compounds and assess their impact on tau protein levels in individual neurons.

Using this assay, Mucke and his team identified small molecules that reduce tau levels in neurons without causing neurotoxicity. The CNDAP-Takeda collaboration will focus on developing these promising molecules into new medicines for Alzheimer’s disease and on identifying additional molecules with significant therapeutic potential.

“We have shown that lowering overall tau levels reduces brain dysfunctions in experimental models of Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, and autism,” says Mucke. “The collaboration with CNDAP and Takeda should help us advance this exciting translational project to the finish line: the development of better treatments to prevent and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and related conditions.”

Individuals and funding agencies who supported the research in Mucke’s lab that culminated in the establishment of this drug development program include the Alzheimer’s Association, the National Institutes of Health, the Carroll Obremskey Charitable Fund, the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation, Dan Ullyot, and the Tau Consortium.

Anke Meyer-Franke, director of the Assay Development and Drug Discovery Core at Gladstone

Anke Meyer-Franke developed a unique assay at Gladstone to asses the impact of compounds on tau protein levels. This technology helped identify lead candidates that have formed the basis of the new collaboration between CNDAP and Takeda.

To further develop and commercialize this and other translational programs from Gladstone, Cure Network Ventures (a Gladstone-owned for-profit affiliate) founded CNDAP together with the Dolby family office, which provided most of the financial backing. Since its creation, CNDAP has also attracted investments by the Rainwater Charitable Foundation.

“Lowering overall tau levels is a very promising therapeutic approach,” said David Dolby, CEO of Dolby Family Ventures and CNDAP board member. “We want to ensure that leading research from Gladstone laboratories can result in actual treatments that can help the millions of people suffering from diseases like Alzheimer’s, and the partnership with Takeda is key in accomplishing this goal.”

This research collaboration will leverage Takeda’s arsenal of diverse approaches to drug development for neurodegenerative disorders to optimize lead compounds, advance development candidates toward clinical trials, and commercialize the most promising drugs as a novel therapeutic for Alzheimer’s disease.

“The ability to reduce tau levels in the brain may offer a novel path to treating some of the most devastating neurodegenerative diseases, and we welcome the opportunity to partner with Professor Mucke and CNDAP to progress this exciting field of research toward the clinic,” said Ceri Davies, PhD, head of the Neuroscience Drug Discovery Unit at Takeda. “We value collaborations wherever they originate, and this program highlights the importance of academic-industry partnerships where we can combine the discoveries made by renowned scientists from Gladstone Institutes with our translational capabilities and the speed needed to accelerate the development of novel therapeutics with transformative potential for patients.”

“Thanks to our important partners at CNDAP and Takeda, we can reach beyond what is typically possible for academic and nonprofit institutions,” says Stephen Freedman, PhD, vice president for Corporate Liaison and Ventures at Gladstone. “We continually strive to explore bold translational models, to combine our strengths with the expertise of external partners, and to offer a range of new investment opportunities with the overall goal of expediting the translation of our scientific discoveries into novel therapeutics.”

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About Gladstone Institutes

Gladstone Institutes is an independent, nonprofit life science research organization that uses visionary science and technology to overcome disease. Established in 1979, it is located in the epicenter of biomedical and technological innovation, in the Mission Bay neighborhood of San Francisco. Gladstone has created a research model that disrupts how science is done, funds big ideas, and attracts the brightest minds.

About Cure Network Dolby Acceleration Partners

Cure Network Dolby Acceleration Partners LLC (CNDAP) was founded in 2015 as a partnership between Cure Network Ventures, a corporation wholly owned by Gladstone Institutes, and the Dolby family office. CNDAP promotes the translational advancement of Gladstone’s fundamental discoveries by bridging the gap between academia and industry. Its main focus is the discovery of small molecules and other therapeutics that could transform the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and related neurological disorders. CNDAP’s operating model matches promising scientific programs that are ready for translation with suitable funding sources and serves as a catalyst for the establishment of spin-out companies and partnerships with biotech and pharma companies. CNDAP was founded around two innovative research programs using distinct approaches for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, which originated in the labs of Lennart Mucke, MD, and Jorge Palop, PhD, at Gladstone Institutes.

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