Partnering with Asia’s largest pharmaceutical company to find obesity treatments

By Patrick Bartosch
February 11, 2013

We held a special signing ceremony today at our Lake Nona, Orlando, campus to renew our research agreement with Florida Hospital and Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited. The renewal extends our collaboration to discover and evaluate new therapeutic approaches to obesity. The collaboration uses a research and drug-development model that creates an early feedback loop in the discovery pipeline. We and our partners expect this model will shorten the time to develop new therapeutics.

Interest in the development of obesity treatments remains strong, as the regulatory approval of two new obesity therapeutics in 2012 offered a proven pathway for drug candidates. “As the worldwide obesity crisis continues to escalate, we are seeing a rise in the prevalence of severe obesity—defined by BMI greater than 40—and we know that this subset of the obese population experiences increased mortality and associated diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer,” said Steven R. Smith, M.D., scientific director of the Florida Hospital – Sanford-Burnham Translational Research Institute for Metabolism and Diabetes (TRI) and president-elect of The Obesity Society. “These statistics are staggering and clearly demonstrate the need to rapidly develop treatment strategies for obesity.”

The partnership combines our complementary strengths in basic research and the TRI’s clinical research advances with Takeda’s drug development expertise. We expect collaboration in the early discovery phase to accelerate the two-way exchange of valuable insights between laboratory research and clinical testing. TRI researchers evaluate discoveries made in Sanford-Burnham’s labs in a clinical setting to ensure that only clinically relevant targets are pursued.

“Our collaborative model for innovative bench-to-bedside translational research offers much promise for expediting new drug candidates into Takeda’s development pipeline. This approach allows us to identify new therapeutic targets and to evaluate clinical utility more efficiently than in the traditional drug development process,” said Daniel P. Kelly, M.D., scientific director at our  Lake Nona campus.

The next phase of research will expand upon the therapeutic target identification conducted during the first two years of the partnership. We’ve used advanced technologies, including genomic and metabolite profiling, to identify metabolic signatures, genes and pathways that could serve as novel drug targets, as well as corresponding biomarkers. The next set of projects aims at investigating factors that regulate energy metabolism, including cross-talk between metabolically relevant tissues.

Through this novel partnership model, we hope to discover new therapeutic options for the ever-growing obese population around the world and to make the drug development process more efficient. The ultimate goal is to deliver innovative, safe and more personalized obesity treatments to patients faster.

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Patrick Bartosch

Patrick was a member of the Communications team at SBP’s Lake Nona campus.


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