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Sanford-Burnham and Florida Hospital review obesity research progress with Takeda Pharmaceutical

Orlando, Fla. February 15, 2012 Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute (Sanford-Burnham) and Florida Hospital researchers recently returned from Japan where they reviewed the progress that has been made at the mid-point of their research partnership with Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited (Takeda). The two-year collaboration focuses on the discovery and evaluation of new therapeutic approaches to obesity. The scientists reported benchmark data that sets the stage for a key element in future drug developmentthe testing of obesity drug candidates.

"The data generated thus far lays the groundwork for analysis of how individuals respond differently to disease," said Steven R. Smith, M.D., an expert in the obesity field and scientific director of the Florida Hospital Sanford-Burnham Translational Research Institute for Metabolism and Diabetes (TRI), where the Florida Hospital portion of the work is being performed. "This partnership with Takeda, TRI and Sanford-Burnham establishes a model to accelerate the development of safe and effective therapies."

During the first year of research, the modeling of fit and obese states laid the groundwork for discovery of a candidate drug for metabolic disease. Clinical research at the TRI assessed the physiological response to dietary changes, such as high sugar or high fat consumption. Across the translational bridge at Sanford-Burnham, patient-derived samples were analyzed using advanced technologies, such as metabolomics, to measure individual response. Ultimately, these metabolic fingerprints may serve as biomarkers and novel drug targets to project how subgroups of patients may respond to new therapies.

This bold collaborative research project involves combining the results of fundamental laboratory studies at Sanford-Burnham with parallel studies conducted with human samples by the research team at Florida Hospital. The results are reviewed on a regular basis in joint meetings of the basic laboratory team at Sanford-Burnham, the clinical research team at Florida Hospital, and the Takeda scientists in Shonan, Japan. Videoconferencing, together with semi-annual face-to-face meetings, have allowed for a stimulating exchange of ideas and efficient planning for next steps. The model serves as a high-profile example of how research institutes such as Sanford-Burnham can partner with industry to accelerate discovery of new drugs and diagnostic biomarkers relevant to common diseases such as obesity and diabetes that afflict populations worldwide.

"Our research projects have progressed extremely well and we were anxious to provide a research update to our partners in Japan," said Daniel Kelly, M.D., scientific director of Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute at Lake Nona. This was not, however, Takeda's first glimpse at the data. Researchers from Takeda, which is Japan's largest pharmaceutical company, met earlier this year in Orlando. A visiting Takeda scientist also works within the Sanford-Burnham laboratories. "This type of close collaboration during the fundamental discovery phase is part of a new model for academic-commercial partnerships designed to expedite new drug candidates into the development pipeline," said Dr. Kelly.

The partnership, launched in February 2011, aligns complementary strengths in biomedical research, clinical research, and drug development to identify and validate obesity-related biomarkers and new drug targets of mutual interest. The multi-disciplinary team of basic scientists and clinical researchers at Sanford-Burnham and the TRI provides Takeda with a research continuum from laboratory bench to patient bedside.

"We're optimistic that this collaboration will contribute to Takeda's goal of identifying novel targets that will lead to the development of new therapeutics to treat patients suffering from obesity," said Paul Chapman, Ph.D., general manager of Takeda's Pharmaceutical Research Division.

The partners expect that this research agreement will set the stage for future collaborative drug discovery programs aimed at novel therapeutics to treat obesity.

Contact: Deborah Robison
Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute

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