Bristol-Myers Squibb Company and the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) have recently announced the signing of an agreement to study fibrotic diseases. The translational research collaboration is focused on diseases such as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), scleroderma and renal fibrosis and will seek to increase knowledge on the mechanism of fibrosis in the body.
In order to improve the mechanistic understanding of fibrosis, the researchers will investigate patient segmentation according to the characteristics of the disease, as well as biomarker approaches and predictors that indicate progression of the disease. The biopharmaceutical company and the medical school announced in a press release that they are dedicated to addressing the unmet needs associated with the treatment of fibrotic diseases.
These diseases are characterized by the accumulation an excess of fibrous connective tissue in both the organs and tissue. The new partners expect to identify new medication able to stop or slow the progression of the disease. “Bristol-Myers Squibb’s collaboration with MUSC further strengthens and advances our Discovery research efforts in fibrotic diseases, a strategic area of focus for the company,” stated the Head of Discovery, R&D at Bristol-Myers Squibb, Carl Decicco, PhD.
“MUSC brings substantial expertise in translational research and drug discovery related to fibrotic diseases including access to patient derived disease tissue samples that will help us accelerate the application of scientific knowledge to potential new treatment approaches for patients,” added Decicco, while the executive director at MUSC Center for Therapeutic Discovery and Development, Karen Lackey believes that “this is an exciting opportunity with the potential to make a significant impact in fibrotic diseases and in patients’ lives with these debilitating diseases.”
“Our goal with translational research is to shorten the timeline in getting patients the medications and treatments they need. We have unparalleled expertise in fibrosis research at MUSC, and this collaboration with a leader like Bristol-Myers Squibb in discovery and development of medications is going to take that foundational work to the next level,” continued Lackey, who serves as pharmacy associate professor at MUSC as well.
Bristol-Myers Squibb has been studying potential treatments for fibrotic diseases and is currently developing in phase 2 studies a lysophosphatidic acid 1 (LPA1) receptor antagonist to treat idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. The investigational treatment is called BMS-986020 and, alongside CCR2/5 dual antagonist for the treatment of diabetic kidney disease, it comprises Bristol-Myers Squibb’s fibrosis portfolio.
This is not the first agreement signed by the company to advance treatment of fibrotic diseases. Last January, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company and the non-profit organization California Institute for Biomedical Research (Calibr) established a worldwide research collaboration focused on the development of novel small molecule anti-fibrotic therapies, as well as an exclusive license agreement for the company to develop, manufacture and commercialize preclinical compounds from Calibr that result from the partnership.
Similarly, in November 2014, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Galecto Biotech AB signed an agreement giving Bristol the exclusive option to acquire Galecto, as well as the global rights for its lead products, an investigational inhaled inhibitor of galectin-3 for the treatment of IPF and other pulmonary fibrotic conditions called TD139. The therapy is currently in phase 1 of development and is expected to improve the treatment of pulmonary fibrosis by slowing the progression of the disease.