MUSC And Bristol-Myers Squibb Announce Translational Research Collaboration Focused on Fibrotic Diseases


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The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and Bristol-Myers Squibb Company have announced their joint entry into a translational research collaboration focused on fibrotic diseases, including scleroderma, renal fibrosis and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). Under the agreement, studies designed to improve the mechanistic understanding of fibrosis, explore patient segmentation based on disease characteristics and/or biomarker approaches, and predictors of disease progression will be funded and supported.

Scleroderma, or systemic sclerosis, is a chronic connective tissue disease generally classified as one of the autoimmune rheumatic diseases. The word scleroderma comes from two Greek words: sclero meaning hard, and derma meaning skin. Hardening of the skin is one of the most visible manifestations of the disease. According to the Scleroderma Foundation, an estimated roughly 300,000 Americans suffer from scleroderma — about one third of those people having the systemic form of the disease.

Tubulointerstitial renal fibrosis is characterized as a progressive detrimental connective tissue deposition on the kidney parenchyma — the functioning part of the kidney that filters blood and makes urine. The development of renal fibrosis appears to be a harmful process leading to renal function deterioration, independent of whatever primary renal disease causes the original kidney injury.

According to The Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis (CPF), Pulmonary Fibrosis (PF) affects some 200,000 Americans and causes as many deaths each year as breast cancer. PF is a lung disorder characterized by a progressive scarring of lung tissue known as fibrosis, which slowly diminishes victims of their ability to breathe. An estimated 48,000 new cases are diagnosed each year, and there is currently no known cause or cure. PF is also difficult to diagnose and roughly two-thirds of patients die within five years of diagnosis. In some instances, PF can be linked to a specific cause, such as certain environmental exposures, chemotherapy or radiation therapy, residual infection, or autoimmune diseases such as scleroderma or rheumatoid arthritis. However, often no known cause can be established, in which case, it is called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), “Idiopathic” diseases are those for which no cause can be determined.

Bristol-Myers Squibb is a major global BioPharma company with a mission to discover, develop and deliver innovative medicines to patients with serious diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, hepatitis B and hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS and, rheumatoid arthritis. The company says its BioPharma strategy combines the reach and resources of a major pharma firm with the entrepreneurial spirit and agility of a successful biotech company, and is focused on customers’ needs, giving maximum priority to accelerating pipeline development, delivering sales growth and continuing to manage costs.

“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,” says Carl Decicco, Ph.D., Head of Discovery, R&D, Bristol-Myers Squibb. “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.”

lackeyk“This is an exciting opportunity with the potential to make a significant impact in fibrotic diseases and in patients lives with these debilitating diseases, agrees Karen Lackey, executive director of the MUSC Center for Therapeutic Discovery and Development, and a pharmacy associate professor. “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.”

The Bristol-Myers Squibb/MUSC collaboration is committed to addressing the unmet need in fibrotic diseases that are characterized by the formation of excess fibrous connective tissue in an organ or tissue, by identifying novel medicines to halt or slow disease progression. Among the assets in Bristol-Myers Squibbs fibrosis portfolio are BMS-986020, a lysophosphatidic acid 1 (LPA1) receptor antagonist in Phase 2 development for the treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), and a CCR2/5 dual antagonist in Phase 2 development for diabetic kidney disease.

Additionally, in November 2014, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Galecto Biotech AB jointly announced an agreement that provides Bristol-Myers Squibb the exclusive option to acquire Galecto Biotech AB and gain worldwide rights to its lead asset TD139, a novel inhaled inhibitor of galectin-3 in Phase 1 development for treatment of IPF and other pulmonary fibrotic conditions.

Bristol-Myers Squibb and the California Institute for Biomedical Research (Calibr) also announced a worldwide research collaboration in January 2015 to develop novel small molecule anti-fibrotic therapies, with an exclusive license agreement allowing Bristol-Myers Squibb to develop, manufacture and commercialize Calibrs preclinical compounds resulting from the collaboration.

The Medical University of South Carolina is one of the oldest continually operating schools of medicine in the United States and the oldest in the Deep South. MUSC was founded in Charleston, South Carolina in 1824 as a small private college for the training of physicians, and today educates and trains more than 3,000 students and residents, and has nearly 13,000 employees, including approximately 1,500 faculty members. As the largest non-federal employer in Charleston, MUSC and its affiliates have collective annual budgets in excess of $1.7 billion. The university operates a 750-bed medical center, which includes a nationally recognized Children’s Hospital, the Ashley River Tower (cardiovascular, digestive disease, and surgical oncology), Hollings Cancer Center (one of 66 National Cancer Institute designated centers) Level I Trauma Center and Institute of Psychiatry. For more information on MUSC visit:

The Medical University of South Carolina
Bristol-Myers Squibb
The Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis

The Scleroderma Foundation

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The Medical University of South Carolina

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