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Sanford-Burnham, Pfizer set their sights on diabetes
08-14-2013
by Kelsey Kaustinen  |  Email the author
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LAKE NONA, Fla.—A new collaboration was established today between the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute and Pfizer Inc. for the identification of new therapeutic targets for the prevention and treatment of obesity- and diabetes-related complications. The partners will make use of novel screening tools including systems-biology approaches and technologies developed at Sanford-Burnham as they seek new methods of reducing insulin resistance 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 work to identify and validate new targets for drug discovery. The investigators will be using Sanford-Burnham's Conrad Prebys Center for Chemical Genomics as they screen for new targets using investigational compounds from Pfizer and also evaluate compounds previously identified from the National Institutes of Health chemical library. Once they have identified compounds of interest, the teams will collaborate to characterize and further study the 'hit' compounds to determine their mechanism of action, and the compounds will be used as 'probes' to identify novel therapeutic targets for treating diabetes. No financial terms for the collaboration were disclosed.
 
"Diabetes presents an enormous public health burden. There is an acute need to translate innovative science into potential new medicines for people living with this debilitating disease," Tim Rolph, vice president and head of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Diseases Research Unit at Pfizer, said in a press release regarding the agreement. "Pfizer's collaboration with Sanford-Burnham to use their cutting-edge screen designs is an example of our strategy to work with academic innovators to discover novel therapeutics for prevention and treatment of diabetes."  
 
Sanford-Burnham's Prebys Center houses a state-of-the-art screening facility created to speed the rate of commercialization of basic research in an independent medical research setting. Sanford-Burnham brings to the table capabilities in ultra-high throughput screening, high-content screening, phenotypic screening and target deconvolution technologies.
 
The collaboration provides Pfizer with access to Sanford-Burnham's team of scientists and its translational infrastructure, while Sanford-Burnham will be able to continue its work of translating high-impact science into new therapies.  
 
"This important collaboration focuses our tremendous scientific and translational firepower on a major medical problem – complications of obesity-related diabetes. Working with Pfizer, we can more quickly bridge the gap between basic and translational research," Stephen Gardell, Ph.D., senior director of scientific resources at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute at Lake Nona, commented in a statement.  
 
The market for new, more effective diabetes therapeutics is huge, as diabetes remains one of the leading health issues and financial burdens in the country. The American Diabetes Association reports that 25.8 million children and adults—roughly 8.3 percent of the population—had diabetes as of 2010, with 79 million people presenting with prediabetes. In addition, diabetes contributed to a total of 231,404 deaths in 2007 as either the underlying cause or a contributing factor. The complications associated with diabetes and obesity include heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease, neuropathy and amputation. The total healthcare burden of diabetes in 2012 reached $245 billion, consisting of $176 billion for direct medical costs and $69 billion in reduced productivity. According to the World Health Organization, some 347 million people suffer from diabetes worldwide, and it is projected to be the 7th leading cause of death by 2030.
 
 
SOURCE: Sanford-Burnham press release
 
Code: E08131301

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