The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) has partnered with biotechnology firm Genentech to discover and develop drug candidates for neurodegenerative diseases.

Roche Group subsidiary Genentech will fund as well as assist in the research work at the UCSF Small Molecule Discovery Center for the identification of small molecules.

In addition to receiving financial research support from Genentech, UCSF also has the potential for further funding in excess of $13m if certain development and commercial milestones are met, plus royalties.

Small-molecule drugs target a specific protein or enzyme that modulates a biochemical or cellular process and have the potential to alter disease states.

Traditionally very effective, the drugs are difficult to identify through standard and high-throughput screening, according to ECSF.