Symphony Pharmaceuticals Inc. announced Friday that it hassigned a $2 million, five-year collaborative research agreementwith The University of Pennsylvania to study excitatory aminoacid (EAA) receptors using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR)spectroscopy.

Symphony of Philadelphia focuses on discovering anddeveloping drugs that will regulate ion currents in the brain.Many neurological afflictions, including epilepsy, anxiety,depression, and Huntington's, Alzheimer's and Parkinson'sdisease, are characterized by an abnormal flow of ions throughchannels in the brain. Symphony is developing drugs tomodulate that flow, particularly through the NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptor, which is responsible for long-termpotentiation.

And University of Pennsylvania collaborator Stanley Opella haspioneered methods to study the structure of proteins in lipidbilayers -- via high resolution solid state NMR spectroscopy.Together, the collaborators hope to characterize the structuraland dynamic properties of the NMDA receptor.

"We will now be able to measure the actual changes associatedwith receptor activation and design compounds to regulaterather than suppress activity," said Maria-Luisa Maccecchini,the chief executive officer of Symphony. -- Jennifer Van Brunt

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