A COPD collaboration

Boehringer Ingelheim, Weill Cornell announce three-year deal to develop new treatments for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

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INGELHEIM, Germany—Boehringer Ingelheim has teamed up with Weill Cornell Medicine in a collaboration aimed at identifying new approaches for treating chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in hopes of developing novel treatments that could halt or potentially reverse disease progression. The agreement, which was negotiated by Weill Cornell's Office of BioPharma Alliances and Research Collaborations, will run three years. It is the second collaboration between the two organizations, with the first agreement focusing on inflammatory bowel disease.
“We are delighted to work with Dr. Crystal at Weill Cornell Medicine, who is one of the leading scientists in severe progressive airway diseases worldwide,” Dr. Clive R. Wood, senior corporate vice president of Discovery Research at Boehringer Ingelheim, said in a press release. “The scientists at Weill Cornell Medicine and Boehringer Ingelheim will work hand in hand to translate new discoveries into drug discovery and development programs at Boehringer Ingelheim. The new collaboration is an excellent example of our unique partnering approach and our focus on early innovation, underscoring our ambition to develop the next generation of medical treatments for patients with COPD.”
Though no financial details were disclosed, Boehringer Ingelheim noted in a press release that this deal falls in line with its long-term strategy to improve patients' lives by “combining a focus on cutting-edge science with a long-term view enabling the company to create a stable environment for the development of the next generation of medical breakthroughs.” Boehringer Ingelheim will leverage its experience in discovering and developing new therapies for respiratory diseases with the Weill Cornell Medicine’s Department of Genetic Medicine’s knowledge of chronic respiratory diseases and work in investigating new approaches for airway repair.
“Our continuous search for molecular drivers of chronic obstructive airway diseases has revealed novel repair mechanisms that warrant further investigation of their potential as therapeutic approaches,” remarked Dr. Ronald G. Crystal, chairman of Genetic Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine and lead investigator in the new collaboration. “We will look to further expand our knowledge about progressive airway destruction in close collaboration with Boehringer Ingelheim and focus on promising therapeutic concepts with the potential to slow down or halt progressive airway damage in patients with COPD.”
COPD is a progressive lung disease in which the airways become inflamed and thicken and excess mucus is produced. This is turn leads to the destruction of the lung tissue where oxygen is exchanged, decreasing lung capacity and airflow and leading to lower oxygen levels throughout the body.
According to the American Lung Association, more than 11 million Americans have been diagnosed with COPD, which is the third leading cause of death in the country. The World Health Organization estimates that some 65 million people worldwide have moderate to severe COPD. There is no cure for COPD, and current treatment options consist mainly of symptom management and bronchodilation.
In other pulmonary news from Boehringer Ingelheim, the company recently announced that it had begun a Phase 2 trial of afatinib combined with pembrolizumab (Keytruda) in patients with locally advanced or metastatic squamous cell carcinoma (SqCC) of the lung. Afatinib is approved in several markets for patients with advanced SqCC of the lung whose disease has progressed while on or after treatment with platinum-based chemotherapy. Keytruda is approved in multiple markets for the treatment of previously untreated patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer whose tumors present with high PD-L1 expression.
The trial will enroll roughly 60 patients who have progressed or relapsed while on or after prior platinum-based chemotherapy, and who have not previously received therapy with an anti-PD-1 therapy, a PD-L1/L2 antibody or other checkpoint inhibitor or anti-EGFR targeted therapy. The primary endpoint will be the objective response rate in terms of measuring any decrease in tumor size, and the trial will seek to confirm the dose of afatinib in combination with the standard dose of pembrolizumab and determine tolerability. Additional endpoints include anti-tumor activity in terms of disease control, duration of response, progression-free survival and overall survival.

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