Shire and Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center said today they have launched a three-year, broad research collaboration to discover and develop new therapies to treat rare diseases with high unmet medical need.

The value of the collaboration was not disclosed. The partners did say, however, that Shire will make an initial upfront payment to Cincinnati Children's and will have the opportunity to fund and offer scientific support to selected research programs.

The partners also said that their research emphasis will be on opportunities that have the potential to deliver a development candidate in less than three years from project initiation. Following the completion of each program, Shire will have an exclusive option to enter into a licensing agreement. Shire will oversee any further development and commercialization of development candidates arising from the collaboration.

The collaboration is intended to combine Shire's development and commercialization capabilities with Cincinnati Children's research expertise. The partners said Cincinnati Children's research expertise aligns with many of Shire's therapeutic areas of focus, including rare diseases, gastroenterology, nephrology, and neurology. Shire also focuses on internal medicine and some therapeutic specialties, such as opthalmics.

“Shire has a deep commitment to patients with rare diseases, and our developmental expertise, combined with Cincinnati Children's research capabilities, should enable an acceleration of our discovery and development efforts,” Philip J. Vickers, Ph.D., Shire’s global head of research and development, said in a statement.

Added Margaret Hostetter, MD, CMO of Cincinnati Children's and director of the Cincinnati Children's Research Foundation: “Cincinnati Children's full spectrum of research capabilities-basic, clinical and translational-coupled with Shire's drug development expertise makes for a very powerful partnership that we hope will have an impact on patients around the world.”

The partners disclosed their new collaboration three months before Cincinnati Children’s is set to open a new 15-story clinical research building. The medical center says the new facility will enable it to expand into the largest pediatric research institution in the U.S. Accelerating medical discoveries is among purposes of the med center’s Change the Outcome Campaign, its largest-ever philanthropic effort designed to raise $250 million by 2018.

The nonprofit Cincinnati Children's is one of the top three recipients of pediatric research grants from the NIH, and a research and teaching affiliate of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.

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