29.10.2012 - It is a significant upgrade for Italian basic research: British-Swiss Shire collaborates with Telethon Foundation on rare disease drugs.
It is a company first for British Shire Pharmaceuticals plc. Despite having had strong ties with academia for a while, the pharma firm has also finally partnered up in a public-private partnership (PPP) with an academic institution for the first time. Last week Swiss Shire Human Genetic Therapies – Shire’s stock corporation from Nyons – and Italian Telethon Foundation entered a long-term collaboration in discovering new medicines against rare diseases. In particular, Shire will spend over the next five years €17m on research on 13 mainly undisclosed indications. The only thing known is that a number of different lysosomal storage disorders and neurodegenerative disorders are among them. With this long-term collaboration, the British hope to boost their early stage pipeline. The terms for Shire picking up a ripening project and eventually bringing it through mid and late clinical stages are still under discussion.
Telethon general manager Francesca Pasinelli underscored the importance of the deal for her foundation: „For a not-for-profit organisation like ours, this alliance represents an opportunity to fulfil the promise made to patients and donors who have been supporting us.“ Most of the research will be carried out at the Telethon Institute of Genetics and Medicine (TIGEM) in Naples. The institute’s research strength lies in gene therapeutics.
Earlier this year Shire launched another early-stage programme together with zinc-finger-technology torchbearer Sangamo Bioscience (tackling haemophilia). While Shire now enters virgin soil with a public-private partnership, Telethon already has some experience in this respect. Since 2010 the foundation – together with GlaxoSmithKline – has been developing a gene therapy for the devastating immune deficiency ADA-SCID.
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