Joslin partners with Pfizer, Lilly on diabetes

Companies will predict, treat kidney failure in type 2 diabetes

Lori Lesko
BOSTON—The Joslin Diabetes Center has launched a partnership with leading drug giants Eli Lilly & Co. and Pfizer Inc., aimed at identifying biomarkers to predict kidney failure in patients with type 2 diabetes and developing ways to treat and prevent this life-threatening complication.
 
The work at the Joslin Diabetes Center Office of Commercialization and Ventures (OCV) has been pioneered by and will be led by Dr. Andrzej Krolewski, who heads Joslin’s Section on Genetics and Epidemiology.
 
“This partnership underscores our shared commitment to advancing innovation in an area where the needs are great,” Krolewski says.
 
The co-funded research agreement stipulates that Joslin will analyze samples from a unique biorepository collected and studied by Krolewski over a period of 15 years from Joslin’s type 2 diabetes patients in order to study specific biomarkers associated with kidney failure. These biomarkers are expected to help researchers predict which patients are at risk of losing kidney function.
 
The 18-month research collaboration began Sept. 1. Financial details of the partnership were not disclosed.
 
Joslin CEO John Brooks says he hopes to see “lots of ideas and initiatives, pilots and trials.”
 
“It’s no longer just about what we do for our 24,000 patients at Joslin,” he says. “We want to take our experience and knowledge and deliver it to other institutions whether across the street, across the state, across the country or across the globe. We are asking what we can do to have greater impact and make a dent in the staggering numbers we are seeing forecast for diabetes over the next 10 or 20 years.”
 
The longitudinal sample collection that Dr. Krolewski and colleagues have assembled from patients with type 2 diabetes and renal function decline is “a unique resource,” says Dr. Christelle Perros-Huguet, chief scientific officer of Pfizer’s Inflammation & Remodeling Research unit. According to Nick Pullen, director of Renal Disease Research at Pfizer, the company’s role in the partnership is to provide pharmacometrics and statistical input to better understand the relationship between specific biomarkers and the rate of renal function decline in individuals with type 2 diabetes.
 
Dr. Matt Breyer, chief scientific officer of lead generation biotechnology discovery research at Lilly, adds, “by leveraging our combined areas of expertise, we hope to identify biomarkers that may facilitate development of next-generation therapies for people at risk for kidney failure resulting from diabetes.”
 
“Tailoring is increasingly recognized as an important aspect of medical care for diabetics, and this partnership underscores our shared commitment to advancing innovation in an area where the needs are great,” Breyer says.

Lori Lesko

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