Mass. General, Broad Institute, and Amgen will work to discover new drugs for inflammatory bowel disease

By Nicole Davis, Broad Communications, January 15th, 2014
  • Collaboration aims to discover and validate new therapeutic targets
    and develop novel therapies for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a
    chronic disorder that affects millions worldwide.
    Image courtesy of Janet Iwasa and Bang Wong

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.

About Massachusetts General Hospital

Massachusetts General Hospital, founded in 1811, is the original and largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. The MGH conducts the largest hospital-based research program in the United States, with an annual research budget of more than $775 million and major research centers in AIDS, cardiovascular research, cancer, computational and integrative biology, cutaneous biology, human genetics, medical imaging, neurodegenerative disorders, regenerative medicine, reproductive biology, systems biology, transplantation biology and photomedicine.

About the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard

The Eli and Edythe L. Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard was founded in 2003 to empower this generation of creative scientists to transform medicine with new genome-based knowledge. The Broad Institute seeks to describe all the molecular components of life and their connections; discover the molecular basis of major human diseases; develop effective new approaches to diagnostics and therapeutics; and disseminate discoveries, tools, methods and data openly to the entire scientific community.

Founded by MIT, Harvard and its affiliated hospitals, and the visionary Los Angeles philanthropists Eli and Edythe L. Broad, the Broad Institute includes faculty, professional staff and students from throughout the MIT and Harvard biomedical research communities and beyond, with collaborations spanning over a hundred private and public institutions in more than 40 countries worldwide. For further information about the Broad Institute, go to www.broadinstitute.org.

About Amgen

Amgen is committed to unlocking the potential of biology for patients suffering from serious illnesses by discovering, developing, manufacturing and delivering innovative human therapeutics. This approach begins by using tools like advanced human genetics to unravel the complexities of disease and understand the fundamentals of human biology.

Amgen focuses on areas of high unmet medical need and leverages its biologics manufacturing expertise to strive for solutions that improve health outcomes and dramatically improve people's lives. A biotechnology pioneer since 1980, Amgen has grown to be the world's largest independent biotechnology company, has reached millions of patients around the world and is developing a pipeline of medicines with breakaway potential.

For more information, visit www.amgen.com and follow us on www.twitter.com/amgen.