UCC institute teams up in €4.8m research plan
UK firm 4D Pharma has partnered with the APC Microbiome Institute at University College Cork in a €4.8m, four-year collaboration project.
The project will research the potential applications of live biotherapeutics in relation to autism spectrum disorders (ASD), as well as so-called associate CNS disorders.
About one in 70 children is affected with ASD, with reported cases steadily increasing since the 1960s, attributed to improved societal awareness and diagnosis.
Although the genetic basis of a minority of cases is known, the disease pathways and mechanisms are poorly understood, presenting a significant challenge to drug discovery, according to 4D Pharma, which is listed on London's Alternative Investment Market.
Current drug treatment options focus on managing the abnormal behaviour associated with autism. More than 50pc of children in the US diagnosed with ASD are prescribed psychoactive drugs or anticonvulsants.
"There is a high unmet medical need for safe and efficacious therapies which treat the core symptoms of ASD," according to Duncan Peyton, 4D's chief executive.
He said that he believes the collaboration with the Cork institute will help "reinforce the emergence of this new therapeutic class".
The institute is a partnership between UCC and Teagasc, with more than 150 scientists and clinicians working on the human microbiome - the vast collection of microbes living in and on the human body which is now known to play an important role in human health.