Sanford-Burnham, Pfizer set their sights on diabetes

The organizations will seek new therapeutics to counter insulin resistance in obese and diabetic patients

Kelsey Kaustinen
LAKE NONA, Fla.—A new collaboration was established todaybetween the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute and Pfizer Inc. for theidentification of new therapeutic targets for the prevention and treatment ofobesity- and diabetes-related complications. The partners will make use ofnovel screening tools including systems-biology approaches and technologiesdeveloped at Sanford-Burnham as they seek new methods of reducing insulinresistance in patients suffering from obesity and diabetes. 

Per the terms of the three-year agreement,multi-disciplinary teams from both organizations will be collaborating on workto identify and validate new targets for drug discovery. The investigators willbe using Sanford-Burnham's Conrad Prebys Center for Chemical Genomics as theyscreen for new targets using investigational compounds from Pfizer and alsoevaluate compounds previously identified from the National Institutes of Healthchemical library. Once they have identified compounds of interest, the teamswill collaborate to characterize and further study the 'hit' compounds todetermine their mechanism of action, and the compounds will be used as 'probes'to identify novel therapeutic targets for treating diabetes. No financial termsfor the collaboration were disclosed.
 
"Diabetes presents an enormous public health burden. Thereis an acute need to translate innovative science into potential new medicinesfor people living with this debilitating disease," Tim Rolph, vice presidentand head of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Diseases Research Unit at Pfizer, saidin a press release regarding the agreement. "Pfizer's collaboration withSanford-Burnham to use their cutting-edge screen designs is an example of ourstrategy to work with academic innovators to discover novel therapeutics forprevention and treatment of diabetes."
 
 
Sanford-Burnham's Prebys Center houses a state-of-the-artscreening facility created to speed the rate of commercialization of basicresearch in an independent medical research setting. Sanford-Burnham brings tothe table capabilities in ultra-high throughput screening, high-contentscreening, phenotypic screening and target deconvolution technologies.
 
The collaboration provides Pfizer with access toSanford-Burnham's team of scientists and its translational infrastructure,while Sanford-Burnham will be able to continue its work of translatinghigh-impact science into new therapies.
 
 
"This important collaboration focuses our tremendousscientific and translational firepower on a major medical problem –complications of obesity-related diabetes. Working with Pfizer, we can morequickly bridge the gap between basic and translational research," StephenGardell, Ph.D., senior director of scientific resources at Sanford-BurnhamMedical Research Institute at Lake Nona, commented in a statement.
 
 
The market for new, more effective diabetes therapeutics ishuge, as diabetes remains one of the leading health issues and financialburdens in the country. The American Diabetes Association reports that 25.8million children and adults—roughly 8.3 percent of the population—had diabetesas of 2010, with 79 million people presenting with prediabetes. In addition,diabetes contributed to a total of 231,404 deaths in 2007 as either theunderlying cause or a contributing factor. The complications associated withdiabetes and obesity include heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure,blindness, kidney disease, neuropathy and amputation. The total healthcareburden of diabetes in 2012 reached $245 billion, consisting of $176 billion fordirect medical costs and $69 billion in reduced productivity. According to theWorld Health Organization, some 347 million people suffer from diabetesworldwide, and it is projected to be the 7th leading cause of death by 2030.
 
 
SOURCE: Sanford-Burnham press release

Kelsey Kaustinen

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