A proposed drug for the treatment of schizophrenia from DarPharma is beginning to enroll patients for a clinical trial, the company said Tuesday morning.

DAR-0100 is intended to treat memory and cognitive deficits that are linked to schizophrenia. The company said the trial is the first involving so-called dopamine D1 receptor full agonist as a treatment.

The Stanley Medical Research Institute is sponsoring the trial. It is a major source of private funding for research into schizophrenia and bi-polar disorders. More than 4 million people suffer from the psychiatric disorders.

“SMRI is dedicated to finding ways to improve the quality of life of people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder,” said Michael Knable, executive director of SMRI, who also is a member of DarPharma’s board of directors. “This is a rare opportunity to take the exciting science done by professors Richard Mailman and David Nichols and promising, related science conducted by other investigators throughout the world and translate it into a clinical study that may open new horizons for therapy. We at SMRI are very pleased that we could support this study.”

SMRI has provided more than $160 million in grants since 1989.

Mailman is from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Nichols works at Purdue.

DarPharma said that D1 agonists have been selected by the National Institute of Mental Health as “the most promising way to treat working memory deficits in schizophrenia.”

“This is the first clinical study to address the conclusions of the NIMH experts,” said Prabhavathi Fernandes, president and CEO of DarPharma, in a statement. “Professors Mailman and Nichols have invested years towards developing D1 agonists and bringing DarPharma to this point. This trial of DAR-0100 for treating cognitive deficits is a landmark in mental health research.”

Patients enrolled will be afflicted with schizophrenia and under existing medication, DarPharma said/ The Medical University of South Carolina is the primary site for the trial.

DarPharma’s DAR-0100 is in Phase II clinical trial for schizophrenia and another trial for late-stage Parkinson’s disease patients.

DarPharma: www.darpharma.com