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Mass. General, Broad Institute And Amgen Will Work To Discover New Drugs For Inflammatory Bowel Disease

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif., Jan. 15, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), the Broad Institute, and Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN) announced today that they have launched a strategic collaboration to jointly discover and validate new therapeutic targets and develop novel therapies for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a chronic disorder that affects millions worldwide. The MGH-Broad-Amgen collaboration brings together scientists with expertise in clinical medicine, IBD biology, human genetics, genomic technology, and drug discovery to work together to help create a new world of therapeutic options for IBD patients.

"We are thrilled to be working together with our Amgen colleagues in this visionary collaboration," said Ramnik Xavier, chief of gastroenterology and director of the Center for the Study of Inflammatory Bowel Disease at Massachusetts General Hospital and a senior associate member of the Broad Institute. "I look forward to a fruitful collaboration, translating discoveries of IBD genes and biology into novel drugs for IBD patients." 

IBD is well known to run in families, suggesting that genes play a significant role in the development and progression of disease. However, until recently, almost nothing was known about the specific genes and mechanisms that predispose — or protect — someone from developing the disorder. Scientists have now pinpointed more than 150 regions of the genome — up from two just a decade ago — that place a person at risk for developing IBD. Despite the recent progress in understanding the biology of IBD, there remains a critical need:  treatments that make use of scientists' new knowledge are urgently needed. While drugs developed over the last decade have led to some marked improvements in IBD treatment, the drugs are not always effective and can cause significant side effects in some patients.

"Current IBD treatment options are limited," said Sean E. Harper, M.D., executive vice president of Research and Development at Amgen. "We believe this collaboration with Massachusetts General Hospital and the Broad Institute will help identify improved treatment options for these patients."

The MGH-Broad-Amgen collaboration will leverage the shared expertise of its participating scientists and partner institutions to discover and develop novel therapies for IBD. The effort will include collection and analysis of patient DNA samples to identify and further validate genetic targets, biological assays to probe gene function, and subsequent drug discovery and development activities. A joint steering committee will be formed to select and guide projects. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

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