AstraZeneca has entered a research collaboration with Shenzhen University Health Science Center. Under the agreement, the partners will undertake pre-clinical research focused on chronic kidney disease (CKD), which represents a large and growing unmet medical need in China. In 2010, there were over 112 million kidney disease sufferers in China and this is expected to rise by 20% to more than 135 million by 2025.
Under the terms of the agreement, scientists from Shenzhen University Health Science Center's Nephrology and Urology Center will work in collaboration with teams from AstraZeneca's Innovation Center China in Shanghai, bringing together complementary skills that will harness and foster medical innovation: Shenzhen University's academic and clinical capabilities and AstraZeneca's heritage in global research and drug discovery.
As a priority, the partners will focus on diabetic nephropathy, damage to the kidneys caused by diabetes, which, in severe cases, can lead to kidney failure. While not all diabetes patients have kidney damage, it is growing at exponential rates in China. Between 2010 and 2025, the number of patients who experience kidney failure as a result of diabetic complications is expected to increase nearly 80% in China, to over 18 million patients. China has overtaken the US in the prevalence of diabetes, with nearly 114 million Chinese people, or 11.5% of all adults, living with the disease in 2010.
"This collaboration signifies an expansion into an important new disease area for AstraZeneca's drug discovery efforts here in China," said Steve Yang, vice president and head of the company's Asia and Emerging Markets Innovative Medicines Unit. "Last year, we delivered the first AstraZeneca pre-clinical candidate drug to be discovered by our scientists in China, in the area of oncology. And now, in addition to our ongoing research efforts in oncology, we are also putting our talented scientists to work in chronic kidney disease – another area of unmet medical need. This demonstrates our commitment to R&D in China through both internal capability building and external partnerships."
He added that this partnership builds on AstraZeneca's strategic collaboration with Fibrogen announced in July last year to develop and commercialise FG-4592, a first-in-class oral compound in late stage development for the treatment of with CKD and end-stage renal disease (ESRD) in key markets around the world, including China.
Director of Shenzhen University Health Science Center and one of China's foremost kidney disease experts, Professor Youfei Guan, said, "Chronic kidney disease is growing rapidly in China and caring for advanced chronic kidney disease is extremely costly. Together with AstraZeneca's world-class scientists, we hope to understand the mechanisms of the disease better and ultimately develop novel medicines to benefit patients – not only in China but worldwide."
"I look forward to the opportunity of joining our partner in looking at exciting new science that will benefit patients, commented Xiaolin Zhang, head of AstraZeneca's Innovation Center China. "We also see this programme not just as an opportunity to help us discover new treatments but also a unique possibility for joint talent development." He added that the partners are also evaluating the establishment of a joint post doctorate programme, which would pave the way for further enhancing scientific leadership and strengthen scientific interactions between the industry and academia.
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