Industry and Academia: Drs. Coleen Atkins and W. Dalton Dietrich

Industry and academia are two very different entities and as such have very different approaches to accomplishing their goals. In academia, the term used for the college and university environment, the main function is to enhance education and research. In industry, the term used for businesses in a particular field, the main function is to create products and services with a financial return. At first glance one would think that academia and industry are at opposite ends of the spectrum with no common ground, but for spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury there are many instances where the two are utilizing each other’s strengths to try to develop and translate therapies to the clinic.

Drs. Coleen Atkins and W. Dalton Dietrich are currently collaborating with Dr. Mark Gurney and Tetra Discovery Partners. Their collaboration is to develop and test selective phosphodiesterase 4B and 4D inhibitors to determine if they improve cognition and recovery after traumatic brain injury (TBI). This collaboration has resulted in a collaborative NIH/NINDS R01 grant as well as a shared NIH/NINDS STTR small business grant. They recently published significant preclinical results in The Journal of Neuroscience demonstrating that treatment with the PDE4B inhibitor reduced chronic cognitive deficits after traumatic brain injury and rescued deficits in hippocampal long-term potentiation. It is expected that Tetra Discovery Partners will use these results in the future to develop a clinical trial program targeting the safety and efficacy of PDE4B inhibition to improve learning and memory in people living with chronic TBI.