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News Release

Joslin Partners with Pfizer and Lilly to Develop Ways to Predict and Treat Kidney Failure in Type 2 Diabetes Patients

BOSTON (October 4, 2013) – Joslin Diabetes Center’s Office of Commercialization and Ventures, today announced it is collaborating with Eli Lilly and Company and Pfizer Inc. which will enable Joslin and both companies to accelerate research aimed at predicting kidney failure in patients with type 2 diabetes and developing potential ways to treat and prevent this complication of diabetes.

This is the first time two pharmaceutical companies have joined forces with Joslin, the world’s leading diabetes research and clinical care organization, to identify biomarkers for predicting kidney disease.  The work at Joslin has been pioneered by and will be led by Andrzej Krolewski, M.D., Ph.D., who heads Joslin’s Section on Genetics and Epidemiology. 

As part of this co-funded research effort, Joslin will analyze samples from a unique biorepository collected and studied by Dr. Krolewski over a period of 15 years from Joslin type 2 diabetes patients in order to study specific biomarkers associated with the development of kidney failure, with the goal of predicting which patients are at risk of losing kidney function and eventually helping develop targeted drugs to address this condition.

“At Joslin, we are open to creating the best partnerships with industry and this alliance will help us continue our mission to deliver translational research into diagnostic and treatment strategies that better serve the patient community,” said John L. Brooks III, President and CEO of Joslin.

“Pfizer is pleased to be a part of this research initiative.  The longitudinal sample collection that Dr. Krolewski and colleagues have assembled from patients with Type 2 diabetes and renal function decline is a unique resource,” said Dr. Christelle Perros-Huguet, Chief Scientific Officer, Pfizer’s Inflammation & Remodeling Research Unit. 

“By leveraging our combined areas of expertise we hope to identify biomarkers that may facilitate development of next generation therapies for people at risk for kidney failure resulting from diabetes,” said Matt Breyer, M.D., chief scientific officer, lead generation biotechnology discovery research at Lilly. “Tailoring is increasingly recognized as an important aspect of medical care for diabetics, and this partnership underscores our shared commitment to advancing innovation in an area where the needs are great.”

“We truly believe that the study of biomarkers that specifically associate with renal function decline will help identify patients who are at the greatest risk of end-stage renal disease which promises to have a tremendous impact on better diagnostic tests for patients as well as new approaches to treat diabetic nephropathy,“ agreed Dr. Krolewski of Joslin.

Renal complications, also known as diabetic nephropathy, are one of the most life-threatening complications of diabetes. Over the course of many years, this damage frequently leads to end-stage renal disease, when the kidneys are no longer able to work at the level needed for everyday life. About a half million people in the United States have ESRD, which requires dialysis or kidney transplantation. Nearly 44 percent of these cases are due to diabetes. Currently, there is no accurate noninvasive test to identify patients at high risk of ESRD.

Joslin’s Office of Commercialization and Ventures (OCV) was created in 2011 to work closely with industry partners and deliver new research and clinical solutions to the diabetes community.  The OCV has worked with companies in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology device, and food industries to help conduct research, clinical trials and develop product-driven strategic alliances.  The OCV also works with Jenesis Biosciences, a for-profit small business, to incubate and accelerate novel technology opportunities to a commercially-ready stage for venture spin-outs and for partner investments.