BMS, MUSC partner to tackle fibrotic diseases

The collaboration will focus on studies aimed at improving the understanding of fibrosis as well as exploring biomarker approaches and other methods of predicting disease progression

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CHARLESTON, S.C. & NEW YORK—In hopes of shedding more light on fibrotic diseases, the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. have begun a translational research collaboration looking at diseases such as scleroderma, renal fibrosis and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Under this agreement, the two organizations will conduct studies with the goal of improving the mechanistic understanding of fibrosis, as well as exploring patient segmentation based on disease characteristics and/or biomarker approaches and predictors of disease progression. No financial details were disclosed.
“This is an exciting opportunity with the potential to make a significant impact in fibrotic diseases and in patients’ lives with these debilitating diseases,” Karen Lackey, MUSC Center for Therapeutic Discovery and Development executive director and pharmacy associate professor, said in a press release. “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.”
“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,” commented Carl Decicco, Ph.D., Bristol-Myers Squibb's head of Discovery, R&D, in a statement. “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.”
Bristol-Myers Squibb has a number of small-molecule drug candidates in its pipeline indicated for fibrotic diseases in either Phase 1 or 2 development. Among those are 2 CCR2/5 antagonists, a galectin-3 inhibitor and a lysophosphatidic acid 1 (LPA1) antagonist. BMS-986020, an LPA1 receptor antagonist, is in Phase 2 development as a treatment for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, and a Phase 2 CCR2/5 dual antagonist is being developed for diabetic kidney disease.
This is Bristol-Myers Squibb's second fibrotic-based collaboration this year. Back in January, the company kicked off the year with the announcement of a worldwide research collaboration with the California Institute of Biomedical Research (Calibr) for the development of novel small-molecule anti-fibrotic therapies as well as an exclusive license agreement that grants Bristol-Myers Squibb the right to develop, manufacture and commercialize the preclinical compounds that result from the collaboration.
“Progressing our small-molecule anti-fibrotic program toward the clinic represents a critical step in our mission to deliver therapies for unmet medical needs to patients,” Peter G. Schultz, Ph.D., institute director and founder of Calibr, said in a press release announcing the collaboration. “We are delighted to accelerate these efforts by partnering with Bristol-Myers Squibb.”

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