Partnering with Pfizer to find treatments for diabetes

By Patrick Bartosch
August 13, 2013
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As part of a new collaboration, Sanford-Burnham at Lake Nona is working with Pfizer Inc. to identify new therapeutic targets for preventing and treating complications of obesity and diabetes. The team will utilize novel screening tools including systems-biology approaches and technologies developed at the Institute with the aim of discovering new therapeutic strategies for reducing insulin resistance in obesity and diabetes.

Under the three-year agreement, multi-disciplinary teams from Sanford-Burnham and Pfizer will collaborate to identify and validate new targets for drug discovery. The collaboration combines our expertise in fundamental disease biology and muscle metabolism with Pfizer’s expertise in drug discovery. Investigators will utilize the Conrad Prebys Center for Chemical Genomics to screen for new relevant targets using investigational compounds from Pfizer as well as evaluate compounds previously identified from the NIH chemical library. Once the screening identifies compounds of interest, Sanford-Burnham and Pfizer scientists will collaborate to characterize and further study the “hit” compounds to understand their mechanism of action. These compounds will then be used as “probes” to identify novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of diabetes.

Finding new medicines for diabetes

“Diabetes presents an enormous public health burden. There is an acute need to translate innovative science into potential new medicines for people living with this debilitating disease,” said Tim Rolph, Vice President and Head of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Diseases Research Unit at Pfizer. “Pfizer’s collaboration with Sanford-Burnham to use their cutting-edge screen designs is an example of our strategy to work with academic innovators to discover novel therapeutics for prevention and treatment of diabetes.”

Pfizer will have access to Sanford-Burnham’s team of world-class scientists and translational infrastructure dedicated to finding new approaches to targeting disease. Collaborating with researchers at a major pharmaceutical company will help us achieve our mission of translating high-impact science into new therapies. “This important collaboration focuses our tremendous scientific and translational firepower on a major medical problem – complications of obesity-related diabetes. Working with Pfizer, we can more quickly bridge the gap between basic and translational research,” said Stephen Gardell, Ph.D., senior director of scientific resources in our Diabetes and Obesity Research Center.

Advancing drug discovery in the Prebys Center

The Prebys Center houses Sanford-Burnham’s state-of-the-art screening facility established to accelerate the rate of commercialization of basic research in an independent medical research setting. Our discovery capabilities include: ultra-high throughput screening, high-content screening, phenotypic screening, and target-deconvolution technologies. The Prebys Center is led and staffed by industry-trained professionals who work closely with Sanford-Burnham investigators and industry collaborators to translate scientific findings into actionable drug discovery projects.

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Patrick Bartosch

Patrick is a manager of Communications at Sanford-Burnham’s Lake Nona campus.

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1 Comment

  1. Carolee Zellmer on

    I am a 64 year old woman. I have type 2 diabetes and I am obese. Its a constant daily struggle. The insulin makes you gain weight and the more weight you gain the more insulin you need. Its a constant circle. I watch everything I eat and most days its very little. Then there are days that I am hungry all the time. That’s the insulin. Most days I fight the feelings to want to eat by not starting the day with a meal…or even lunch. Then supper I try to only consume 1/2 of it. Then at nighttime I usually have a snack of 80 cal. fat free low sugar yogurt after my nighttime shot. Please Please work faster for a solution. But it needs to be affordable because at the ed of the year I will be 65 and have to pay for meds, especially if its new because the newer the drug the less likely any medicare Rx drug will cover it at all.

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