16 Jan Marquette, UWM team to license schizophrenia treatment
Milwaukee, Wis. – Marquette University and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Research Foundation have announced the completion of a license agreement with Promentis Pharmaceuticals, a Milwaukee biotechnology start-up that wants to commercialize a treatment for schizophrenia and other central nervous system conditions.
Terms of the deal, the third licensing agreement brokered by the UWM Research Foundation, were not disclosed.
The company was founded by a neuroscience research team comprised of Marquette’s David Baker, a professor in the College of Health Sciences, and John Mantsch, associate professor of biomedical sciences. They will serve on the company’s board along with UWM chemistry professor James Cook and Douglas Lobner, associate professor of biomedical sciences at Marquette.
Baker has studied how modulation of neurotransmitters in the brain can be used to understand schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders. He has collaborated with Cook and his UWM colleagues Edward Merle Johnson II and Wenyuan Yin to improve the delivery of active chemical compounds to the brain.
Cook’s work to design compounds that act on the central nervous system has resulted in multiple patents and technology licenses, including a license of an anti-anxiety compound to Bristol-Myers Squibb.
Other members of the Promentis executive team are Daniel Lawton, Klaus Veitinger, and Steve Pollock.
Schizophrenia, a chronic and disabling brain disease, causes people to suffer auditory hallucinations such as hearing internal voices or paranoia, and often leads to social withdrawal. The disorder affects nearly one percent of the world’s population, with estimated treatment costs pegged at $60 billion annually in the U.S. alone.
William Cullinan, dean of Marquette’s College of Health Sciences, said the research and its commercial potential create exciting possibilities for the treatment of schizophrenia. “It is a powerful example of academic research in pursuit of the human good, and of collaboration within the department and the university at large, with the private sector and with UWM,” he said in a statement released by the university.