Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute said it will work with a division of Johnson & Johnson Services Inc. to discover compounds for Alzheimers disease and major psychiatric disorders. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

According to a Jan. 17 press announcement from La Jolla-based Sanford-Burnham, Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., a J & J business division in Raritan, N.J., gains exclusive access for a three-year term to a multidisciplinary team of Sanford-Burnham scientists focused on finding new approaches to treating patients with neurological and psychiatric conditions.

Sanford-Burnham will also receive funding including upfront and yearly access fees, funding of discovery research in the field, milestone payments and royalties for successfully developed products.

"This agreement sets the stage for Sanford-Burnham to fully leverage the drug discovery infrastructure the institute has put into place over the last five years," said Dr. Michael Jackson, vice president of drug discovery and development at Sanford-Burnham.

The Alzheimers Association estimates the number of people in the U.S. with Alzheimers disease at 5.3 million. While four drugs that temporarily improve cognitive function in Alzheimers patients are on the market, currently, there is no treatment available to stop the progression of the disease.

- Steve Sinovic