Boehringer Ingelheim and Harvard Stem Cell Institute’s (HSCI) Harvard Fibrosis Network recently announced a new research partnership to find novel treatments for fibrotic diseases, such as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), chronic kidney disease (CKD), and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).
“We are very excited about joining forces with this renowned group of fibrosis researchers,” said Clive R. Wood, Ph.D., Boehringer Ingelheim’s senior corporate vice president of discovery research, in a press release.
“We strongly believe that the integration of deep medical and preclinical research expertise across multiple fibrotic disorders is centrally important for the discovery of new treatments for patients,” Wood said, adding the Harvard Fibrosis Network and Boehringer Ingelheim’s fibrosis cluster team will work closely together to translate new findings and chemical starting points into drug discovery programs at Boehringer Ingelheim.
Fibrotic diseases are conditions where fibrosis (the formation of excess fibrous connective tissue in an organ) typically injures, scars, or causes inflammation to the patients’ organs. Fibrosis is not fully understood and many organs can be affected in this process, including the liver, lung, kidney, gastrointestinal tract, skin, and even the heart.
Despite being a major cause of mortality worldwide, there are still no absolute treatments for fibrosis, and new approaches are long overdue. Researchers need to look urgently into the common causes of fibrotic diseases so that novel therapeutics and better treatments can be developed.
The new alliance will begin with three projects to discover new drivers of fibrosis and explore new pathways and molecular targets for the fibrotic diseases mentioned above. Sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim, the project team will have access to the chemical compound portfolio and siRNA library at the ICCB-Longwood screening facility, and will receive support from Shannan Ho Sui’s bioinformatics team at the Harvard Chan Bioinformatics Core at HSCI’s Center for Health Bioinformatics.
“The breadth and depth of this collaborative effort is yet another reminder of Harvard Stem Cell Institute’s power as both a convener and a driver of research and treatment development,” said Joseph V. Bonventre, M.D., Ph.D., executive committee member of the HSCI and chief of the renal unit and director of the bioengineering division at BWH.
“HSCI has brought together researchers, across the Harvard biomedical ecosystem, who are working in multiple organ systems with a leading pharmaceutical company with the goal of bringing new therapeutic approaches to a problem which is pervasive in medicine,” Bonventre said.
Boehringer Ingelheim’s fibrosis cluster enabled the development of Ofev (nintedanib), a drug developed for the treatment of IPF that is now being studied for systemic sclerosis associated with interstitial lung disease (SSc-ILD) in a Phase 3 clinical trial (SENSCIS).
The pharmaceutical company says is committed to investigating underlying pathophysiological mechanisms that enable the discovery of novel treatments for diseases with urgent medical needs, by supporting the identification of new targets for cardio-metabolic, immunology and respiratory diseases.