• Through the partnership with the Lieber Institute, Boehringer Ingelheim obtains access to preclinical pipeline candidates of a potential first-in-class approach for the symptomatic treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia.
  • The new collaboration further expands Boehringer Ingelheim’s circuitry-based approach to precision psychiatry and solidifies the company’s commitment to provide better treatments for patients living with serious mental health conditions.

INGELHEIM, Germany & BALTIMORE, MD, USA I March 16, 2021 I Boehringer Ingelheim and the Lieber Institute for Brain Development (LIBD) today announced a joint research and licensing collaboration focused on the development of novel centrally acting COMT (catechol-O-methyltransferase) inhibitors for the potential treatment of cognitive deficits in a spectrum of neuropsychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia. Aligning with a circuitry-based approach to precision psychiatry, the collaboration will leverage Boehringer Ingelheim’s deep experience in central nervous system (CNS) drug discovery and development alongside Lieber’s expertise in centrally acting COMT inhibitors. Ultimately, the partnership will focus on advancing novel COMT inhibitor candidates into the clinic.

“Psychiatric disorders including cognitive impairment in schizophrenia have historically been difficult indications to treat and continue to remain areas of high unmet need. This collaboration with the Lieber Institute further expands our innovative neuropsychiatric research program, a key focus area at Boehringer Ingelheim, with a first-in-class mechanism that may have the potential to address these symptoms,” said Dr. Hugh Marston, Ph.D., Head of Department CNS Diseases Research at Boehringer Ingelheim. “By combining our expertise, we hope to make significant steps forward to finding solutions for patients for which there currently is no treatment.”

COMT, a dopamine metabolizing enzyme, is key to the modulation of dopamine in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus of the brain. Adequate function of dopamine signaling is critical for a number of cognitive and behavioral processes that are impaired in a variety of neuropsychiatric and neurological disorders such as schizophrenia. While peripherally acting COMT inhibitors are currently used as an adjunctive therapy in the treatment of neurological conditions, including Parkinson’s disease, this new collaboration is investigating centrally acting COMT inhibitors in neuropsychiatric disorders.

Recent studies from the Lieber Institute suggest an important role of centrally acting COMT inhibitors in the potential symptomatic treatment of various neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders. The potential of centrally acting COMT inhibitors has not yet been evaluated in the clinic due to the unavailability of such compounds. In partnering with the Lieber Institute, Boehringer Ingelheim has in-licensed preclinical pipeline candidates, representing a first-in-class approach for targets in neuropsychiatric disorders.

“The Lieber Institute has a long-standing effort exploring centrally acting COMT inhibitors as part of its mission to understand the genetic and molecular mechanisms of schizophrenia and related brain disorders,” said Daniel R. Weinberger, M.D., LIBD CEO & Director. “We are excited to embark on this partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim to identify potential therapeutic candidates and advance them to clinical development in order to help improve the lives of those affected by this serious mental health condition.”

Financial details of the collaboration were not disclosed.

Boehringer Ingelheim
Making new and better medicines for humans and animals is at the heart of what we do. Our mission is to create breakthrough therapies that change lives. Since its founding in 1885, Boehringer Ingelheim is independent and family-owned. We have the freedom to pursue our long-term vision, looking ahead to identify the health challenges of the future and targeting those areas of need where we can do the most good.

As a world-leading, research-driven pharmaceutical company, more than 51,000 employees create value through innovation daily for our three business areas: Human Pharma, Animal Health, and Biopharmaceutical Contract Manufacturing. In 2019, Boehringer Ingelheim achieved net sales of 19 billion euros. Our significant investment of almost 3.5 billion euros in R&D drives innovation, enabling the next generation of medicines that save lives and improve quality of life. 

We realize more scientific opportunities by embracing the power of partnership and diversity of experts across the life-science community. By working together, we accelerate the delivery of the next medical breakthrough that will transform the lives of patients now, and in generations to come.

More information about Boehringer Ingelheim can be found at www.boehringer-ingelheim.com or in our annual report: http://annualreport.boehringer-ingelheim.com.

The Lieber Institute for Brain Development
The Lieber Institute for Brain Development/Maltz Research Laboratories was established in 2010 to plot a new course in biomedical research that would improve the lives of individuals affected with developmental brain disorders. We are one of the only research institutions in the world focused specifically on understanding how genes and the environment influence the way our brains develop that lead to conditions such as schizophrenia, autism, bipolar disorder and related developmental brain disorders.  The Lieber Institute is an independent, not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization affiliated with the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. 
More information about the Lieber Institute for Brain Development/Maltz Research Laboratories can be found here: https://www.libd.org (link is external)/ or in our annual report: https://www.libd.org/2019-libd-annual-report/ (link is external) .

SOURCE: Boehringer Ingelheim