24-Apr-2012

Novo Nordisk and Oxford University look for arthritis cure

Novo Nordisk and the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology at Oxford University have announced a new partnership to develop promising new drug candidates and identify novel biomarkers and treatment targets for rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune inflammatory diseases.

Per Falk, senior vice president of the Biopharmaceutical Research Unit at Novo Nordisk, said ‘The overall ambition is to combine our company’s clinical development strengths with those of the Kennedy Institute to increase the odds that we can successfully develop novel treatment regimens and get them more quickly to the patients who could potentially benefit from them’.

The Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology has previously made breakthroughs in the understanding of the biological pathways that lead to rheumatoid arthritis, which has had a major impact on the treatment of autoimmune inflammatory disease. Professor Sir Marc Feldmann, Head of the Institute, together with his colleague Sir Ravinder Maini, discovered the efficacy of anti-tumour necrosis factor or anti-TNF treatment, a class of drugs used as the current standard of care for moderate-to-severe rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune inflammatory diseases.

The Institute focuses on translational research techniques, including the novel use of diseased human tissue to validate new drug targets as tractable avenues for the treatment of autoimmune inflammatory diseases, and also the identification of specific biomarkers of disease that can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of new interventions in a range of patient populations.

Professor Feldmann said:‘We will work closely together with Novo Nordisk to apply the most advanced translational research approaches available for discovering new mechanisms and validating drug targets and candidates in autoimmune inflammatory disease in a variety of human disease tissue types and at different stages of disease to ensure comprehensive characterisation of each compound’s clinical potential’.

Novo Nordisk will fund 10 Oxford researchers at the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology to work within the partnership. A Joint steering committee with members from both parties, including Per Falk and Professor Feldmann, will oversee the partnership and assess research proposals from scientists at both organisations.

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