Fruitful and Prosperous - The productive partnership between Memory and Roche illustrates the value of (modified) laissez faire. - BioPharm International

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Fruitful and Prosperous
The productive partnership between Memory and Roche illustrates the value of (modified) laissez faire.


BioPharm International


Q What is the most important thing you’re doing?Hug We are approaching the partnership with a "light touch." This is a philosophy we use in the way we manage our alliances around the world. What this means is that we allow our partners the space and autonomy to pursue their goals while adding our support and expertise where it is needed. In this case, we structured the deal so that Memory is responsible for the development of the nicotinic alpha-7 compounds through to Phase II a. This aspect of the alliance works for both partners: the risk is balanced for each side, and Memory is able to further enhance and develop its own infrastructure. The knowledge that each side is winning in this alliance means everyone can feel very positive and enthusiastic about it and feel determined to make it work. We ensure that the channels of communication are always open. There are no surprises, and we ensure absolute transparency. It helps that we have excellent chemistry between our people and theirs. We also have a communications framework in place that includes close and regular contact among alliance directors, project teams, and oversight committees, for example.

Smith Memory brings a focus and entrepreneurial drive to discovering and then developing novel compounds for the treatment of a broad range of CNS conditions that exhibit significant impairment of memory and other cognitive functions. The CNS impairments range from neurological diseases associated with aging, such as Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia and mild cognitive impairment, to psychiatric disorders such as depression and schizophrenia.

Although therapies for treating Alzheimer's disease, depression and schizophrenia have been available for a number of years, many of the approved drugs for these disorders are not effective in a large number of patients and can produce significant side effects. Our CNS drug candidates are designed to address biological targets within the cellular pathways that we believe are critically involved in memory formation and other cognitive functions. The relative specificity of these biological targets provides an opportunity to develop drugs with reduced side effect profiles. Our drug discovery programs are designed to yield effective and safe drug candidates in a shorter time frame relative to industry norms. By performing benchmark safety and efficacy tests early in the process and only advancing the most promising drug candidates, we believe that we are able to accelerate the overall drug development time line and provide higher-quality drug candidates.

We are able to bring novel drug candidates to our Roche alliance through the efforts of our interdisciplinary drug discovery and development approach. Our target screening, CNS chemistry, behavior, preclinical development and information technology departments are headed by accomplished pharmaceutical scientists working together in a single facility. The teams are driven by the high growth requirements of a biopharmaceutical company, in which achievement of R&D milestones is linked closely to the company's success.

We put an emphasis on communication and decision-making processes with our partner, to enable the alliance to benefit fully from Memory's R&D capabilities. Using a variety of real-time information formats, Memory and Roche address the key issues and share current thinking. Optimal coordination of the resources and assets in true partnership is a key factor for success in the alliance.

Q What’s the biggest challenge your company presents to your partner?Hug Whenever Big Pharma works with a developing biotech company, there are the issues of bringing together two companies of very different size and culture. The smaller company will have a sense of urgency, sometimes to which a bigger company, with its various processes, might not be able to respond. What eases the challenge in our case is that the management team at Memory has Big Pharma experience, so they're aware of the way we operate. In turn, it's good for us to respond to this sense of urgency. We believe that the challenges of bringing together different cultures creates a really dynamic and beneficial partnership.

Smith Memory brings a vision, an organization and a unique capability to address some of the largest and fastest-growing markets in medicine. According to the WHO, more than 180 million people worldwide suffer from CNS disorders that exhibit significant impairment of memory and other cognitive functions. These disorders include neurological diseases associated with aging, such as Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia and MCI, and certain psychiatric diseases, including depression and schizophrenia. The cognitive deficits associated with these disorders result in symptoms ranging from mild impairment of short-term and long-term memory to the inability to engage in cogent conversation and perform routine tasks. We expect the market for drugs treating these diseases to grow significantly over the next several decades as the baby boomer generation ages, life expectancies increase, and improved drugs and diagnostic techniques become available.


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