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Boehringer partners with US universities

Will work with Yale and Vanderbilt on cancer projects
Boehringer headquarters

German pharma company Boehringer Ingelhiem has entered research collaborations with two leading universities in the US.

The company will work with Yale University in Connecticut and Vanderbilt University in Tennessee on separate programmes to develop new medicines.

The deal with Yale University will see the partners collaborate on developing immunotherapies, medicines that encourage the body's immune system to fight a disease.

Research will cover several therapeutic areas, including oncology, autoimmune and respiratory disorders.

The project will be led by Dr Lieping Chen, director of cancer immunology at the Yale Cancer Center, who has experience in the growing area of anti-PD-1 medicines.

"This collaboration will help us to identify important pathways, and what the biological application of modulating those pathways will be," said Dr Chen. "We will investigate whether these new pathways could become future drug targets."

The partnership with Vanderbilt University has cancer as its main focus, specifically the research of inhibitors of the gene Ras, which when mutated can lead to the development of cancer.

According to Boehringer Ras is the most frequently mutated gene known in cancer. There are several mutations known as H-Ras, N-Ras and K-Ras and mutations in the Ras family are found in 20% to 30% of all human tumours.

However, despite the commonality of the mutation, Ras has been a particularly difficult protein to target since its discovery in human cancers more than 30 years ago.

Dr Michel Pairet, senior corporate VP of research and non-clinical development at Boehringer Ingelheim, said: “We believe that our combined strengths and philosophies in drug discovery will go a long way in addressing what has up to now been a very difficult drug target.”

Article by
Thomas Meek

15th January 2015

From: Research

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