News Feature | May 23, 2014

Sanford-Burnham And Daiichi Sankyo Enter Drug Discovery Alliance

By Estel Grace Masangkay

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Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute announced that it has entered into a three-year intensive collaboration with pharmaceutical firm Daiichi Sankyo for the development of first-in-class drugs to treat cardiovascular-metabolic disease.

The partnership aims to close the gap between discovering targets and developing drugs in the pre-clinical stage. The companies will focus on the identification, validation, and screening of new drug targets. Research will also focus on studying disease mechanisms. According to the organizations’ agreement, Sanford-Burnham will work with Cardiovascular-Metabolics Research Laboratories at Daiichi Sankyo to discover valid targets and then conduct drug screening for candidate compounds that modulate the targets. Collaboration teams will work using facilities at both sites.

Dwight Towler, professor and director of the Cardiovascular Pathobiology Program at Sanford-Burnham, said, “The partnership will focus on the broad area of cardiovascular-metabolic diseases, which is a primary research area for Sanford-Burnham as well as a critical unmet medical need worldwide. Strategic partnerships such as this one serve as a key component of our Institute's 10-year vision to translate basic research discoveries into innovative therapies more quickly.” Dr. Towler said that the collaboration is yet another milestone for Sanford-Burnham as it partners with pharmaceutical collaborators for the patient-oriented initiative.

The non-profit, independent institute employs 1,200 scientists and staff in its sites in San Diego, California and Orlando, Florida. Sanford-Burnham collaborates with partners to research cancer, stem cells, diabetes, cardiovascular, inflammatory, and neurodegeneration diseases among others by studying fundamental molecular causes of disease.

Dr. Masahiko Ohtsuki, Corporate Officer and Global Head of Research at Daiichi Sankyo said, “This is unique and innovative early-stage drug discovery collaboration. The cardiovascular-metabolic area is a key priority for Daiichi Sankyo and we have found a strong, strategic partner in Sanford-Burnham.” Dr. Ohtsuki said he anticipates the fruit of the collaboration between the organizations soon.

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