Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) will partner with the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) on translational research into fibrotic diseases. The partners said today their collaboration—whose value was not disclosed—will include studies to explore patient segmentation based on disease characteristics and/or biomarker approaches, as well as predictors of disease progression.

“MUSC brings substantial expertise in translational research and drug discovery related to fibrotic diseases including access to patient derived disease tissue samples that will help us accelerate the application of scientific knowledge to potential new treatment approaches for patients.” Carl Decicco, Ph.D., head of discovery, R&D, for BMS, said in a statement.

Added Karen Lackey, MUSC Center for Therapeutic Discovery and Development (SCCTDD) executive director and pharmacy associate professor: “We have unparalleled expertise in fibrosis research at MUSC, and this collaboration with a leader like Bristol-Myers Squibb in discovery and development of medications is going to take that foundational work to the next level.”

Fibrotic and inflammatory diseases is one of three areas on which SCCTDD focuses its drug discovery and translation efforts by facilitating academic-industry partnerships; the other three are cancer and neurological disorders.

Fibrotic diseases is one of BMS’ eight core therapeutic areas, with the pharma giant focused on building its offerings in the segment since acquiring Amira Pharmaceuticals in 2011. In its statement, BMS highlighted two Phase II fibrosis candidates: BMS-986020, a lysophosphatidic acid 1 (LPA1) receptor antagonist for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), and a CCR2/5 dual antagonist in Phase II development for diabetic kidney disease.

More recently, BMS strengthened its fibrotic disease pipeline in January by entering into a global research collaboration with the California Institute for Biomedical Research (Calibr) to develop new small molecule anti-fibrotic therapies. The partners signed an exclusive license agreement allowing BMS to develop, manufacture, and commercialize Calibr’s preclinical compounds resulting from the collaboration. Calibr was launched in 2012.

Late last year, BMS signed an exclusive option to acquire Galecto Biotech and gain worldwide rights to its lead asset TD139, a deal valued at up to $444 million. Since then, Galecto won FDA approval in March for its IND application for the drug candidate in IPF, and disclosed plans to launch a Phase Ib/IIa trial in IPF patients in the U.K.

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