Servier and the Autonomous University of Barcelona collaborate to accelerate research into Parkinson’s disease

Salvador Ventura amb els membres del seu equip.
Members of the UAB Protein Folding and Conformational Diseases research group, led by Salvador Ventura

Researchers from the IBB-UAB will collaborate with Servier to find new molecules capable of blocking the alpha-synucleic protein, the accumulation of which is the main factor causing Parkinson's disease.


Servier, an international independent pharmaceutical company, and the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), have signed a partnership agreement to speed up research into Parkinson’s disease, using a new method for small-molecule screening developed by Prof Salvador Ventura, PhD, group leader at the Institute of Biotechnology and Biomedicine (IBB) and at the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Department at the UAB.

Within the framework of this agreement, teams from Servier will collaborate with Prof Ventura’s teams to further develop and identify chemical series capable of neutralizing the pathogenicity of -synuclein, a protein which is of major importance, not only in Parkinson’s disease, but also in several other neurodegenerative diseases.

“The discovery of new drugs to treat neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric diseases is a key focus for Servier as there remain many unmet needs for patients with these pathologies,“ stated Ross Jeggo, Director of Neuropsychiatric Research for the Servier Group. “Thanks to Prof Ventura’s high-level expertise, this collaboration represents an opportunity for the group to significantly accelerate research and the availability of therapeutic solutions to patients who suffer from Parkinson’s disease and related neurodegenerative disorders".

The group led by Prof Ventura has a long experience in the study of protein misfolding and aggregation and their connection with neurodegenerative diseases, with a particular focus on the development of innovative therapeutics for these pathologies. They have evolved a methodology that allows identifying candidates targeting alfa-synuclein among thousands of chemical compounds. "The collaboration with Servier will allow us to join efforts in the search and development of a molecule which can be used for the treatment and, hopefully, the prevention of Parkinson's disease" pointed out Prof Ventura.

Servier is an international pharmaceutical company governed by a non-profit foundation, with its headquarters in France. With a total revenue of 4.6 billion euros in 2019, Servier employs 22,000 people worldwide. The Group invests on average 25% of its total revenue every year in research and development and uses all its profits for its development. Highly committed to neuropsychiatry, Servier offers innovative treatments to patients suffering from neurologic disorders. Its research teams are working on new approaches for the treatment of a range of neurodegenerative disorders, by targeting the toxic proteins responsible for neuronal degeneration. 

Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease, after Alzheimer disease, and affects about 10 million people worldwide . Parkinson’s disease is caused by the progressive degeneration – or even disappearance – of neurons, in particular in the area of the brain specifically responsible for the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter involved in motor control. Age is the main risk factor for this disease, which targets in particular the ability to perform normal movements. To date, major medical needs for this disease have not been met, as there are no treatments available which have demonstrated a neuroprotective or neuroregenerative effect.