AstraZeneca and its global biologics research and development arm, MedImmune, said today they will partner with the University of Michigan and Eli Lilly to identify new therapeutic targets for treating chronic kidney diseases (CKD).

The partners’ Renal Pre-Competitive Consortium (RPC2) is intended to combine the R&D expertise of the companies with clinical and molecular data collected by Matthias Kretzler, M.D., a nephrologist at the University of Michigan.

Dr. Kretzler has established a renal database with information from more than 1,000 patients, as well as from multiple animal models of CKD, for use toward research into the condition. RPC2 will access Dr. Kretzler’s database to explore key pathways that drive the progression of CKD, as well as identify potential targets for new treatments.

“New therapies for patients are waiting to be discovered among the vast amount of information now available,” Dr. Kretzler said in a university statement.

Each consortium member will contribute bioinformatic and scientific capabilities to the consortium, though members retain the right to explore targets of interest independently, AstraZeneca and MedImmune said. Membership in RPC2 can be renewed annually by current participants, and/or expanded to include new industry participants and biopharma companies.

“Joining this consortium represents a great step forward in our aspiration to become a leader in the treatment of CKD,” Marcus Schindler, head of AstraZeneca’s Cardiovascular and Metabolic Diseases (CVMD) Innovative Medicines Unit, said in a company statement. “We believe that knowledge generated in the consortium will lead to an expansion of our portfolio with targets that have a strong patient-based foundation.”

AstraZeneca said its participation in the consortium complements a two-year research collaboration between the company and the University of Michigan launched last year. Under that collaboration, targets from AstraZeneca’s cardiovascular and metabolic disease portfolio are validated for their potential in treating CKD, with the goal of discovering new targets and driving re-purposing of existing medicines based on new understanding of disease progression.

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