Elan Corp Plc has signed an agreement with Cambridge University to create a research centre focussed on therapies for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, the Dublin-headquartered biotech group said on Sunday.

Elan, whose main research facility is in San Francisco, will spend $10 million (6.5 million pounds) over the next five years on the research centre and has an option to extend the deal for another five years.

Researchers from Cambridge and Elan want to discover ways of altering the behaviour of proteins that can spread neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

This agreement is a natural next step in the existing working relationship between our scientists in South San Francisco and scientists at the University of Cambridge, Dale Schenk, chief scientific officer at Elan, said in a statement.

This collaborative effort complements our portfolio of programmes in neuroscience and supports the process of discovery which we believe may lead to a class of therapeutics that no one has thought possible before.

(Reporting by Carmel Crimmins; Editing by David Holmes)