Research collaboration targets metabolic diseases

An international pharmaceutical company has entered into a collaborative study with Harvard University researchers to explore a new avenue for the treatment of type 2 diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

France-based Servier and Harvard researchers will embark on a three-year preclinical research project where the ultimate objective is to develop therapeutics targeting the microbiota for the treatment of type 2 diabetes and NAFLD. The work will be conducted by a multidisciplinary team of researchers from both parties.

The research team at Harvard University will be led by Emily P. Balskus, Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, and the team at Servier will be led by Philippe Delerive, head of research for cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.

The collaboration combines the experience of Servier researchers in the field of metabolism and drug development with Prof Balskus' expertise in chemical discovery relating to the gut microbiome. Together, the parties hope to make important advances in understanding disease biology and to use emerging technologies to develop new treatment options for diseases with high unmet medical need.

“Gut microbiota is an untapped resource for the identification of novel targets in the field of metabolic diseases," said Claude Bertrand, Servier's group executive vice-president research & development.

"It opens up new perspectives for the development of increasingly precise and personalized innovative therapies. The close collaboration between our researchers and academic researchers from Harvard represents a major step in this direction, for the ultimate benefit of patients.”

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) affects over 25% of the world's population. The condition, in which too much fat is stored in the liver, is very often linked to excess weight and/or type 2 diabetes. This, in turn, is due to the build-up of fatty acids and scar tissue, which can lead to steatohepatitis (NASH), cirrhosis and, in some cases, to the development of liver cancer. Currently there are no therapies available to patients for this disease.

This collaboration is a project under the strategic alliance established between Servier and Harvard University in 2017. Under the terms of the alliance agreement, Servier will support multi-year research projects initiated by Harvard faculty and focused on the development of innovative treatments in its therapeutic fields of expertise. Servier selected this project through a call for proposals.

 

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