New Collaboration Aims to Translate Anti-Fibrotic Therapies From Bench to Bedside

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by Maureen Newman |

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A collaboration between Bristol-Myers Squibb Company and The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) will focus on translational research for developing scleroderma and other fibrotic disease treatments. The goal is to combine the two teams’ expertise to advance exciting new research into effective therapeutic options for patients with fibrotic disease.

“This is an exciting opportunity with the potential to make a significant impact in fibrotic diseases and in patients’ lives with these debilitating diseases,” said Karen Lackey, executive director and pharmacy associate professor at MUSC Center for Therapeutic Discovery and Development, in a news release from Bristol-Myers Squibb. “Our goal with translational research is to shorten the timeline in getting patients the medications and treatments they need.”

Within the collaboration, the two teams will work together to improve the scientific understanding of fibrotic diseases such as scleroderma and to recognize how segmenting patients based on disease characteristics and biomarker expression can leading to better prognoses and outcomes. Already, Bristol-Myers Squibb holds a few pharmacological assets in its portfolio of development to treat idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a complication that often affects scleroderma patients. According to Dr. Lackey, MUSC will contribute expertise in fibrosis research to help bring these treatments further along in clinical development.

“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,” said Carl Decicco, PhD, Head of Discovery in the Research and Development segment of Bristol-Myers Squibb. “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.”

Among the compounds in development at Bristol-Myers Squibb, BMS-986020 is mid-way through clinical testing. The lysophophatidic acid 1 (LPA1) receptor antagonist is currently in Phase 2 clinical testing for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Additionally, Bristol-Myers Squibb may soon have the rights for TD139, a novel inhaled inhibitor of galectin-3, if the company chooses to acquire it from Calecto Biotech AB. This compound is currently in Phase 1 testing for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Testing these compounds may advance the treatments into Phase 3 clinical trials and future clinical use.