University of Virginia Collaborates to Develop New Cardio Drugs


December 17, 2009

December 17, 2009 – The University of Virginia (UVa) in Charlottesville and AstraZeneca this week entered into a strategic research collaboration to enhance development of new treatments, primarily for coronary artery disease (CAD) with a secondary focus on peripheral vascular disease (PAD).

The collaborative preclinical research projects will focus on identifying disease mechanisms and biological targets that have the potential to be starting points for successful and commercially viable treatments of these diseases. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Atherosclerosis is one of the primary causes of heart diseases, stroke and often death in both men and women in western societies. All evidence suggests that this will increase further as risk factors such as poor diet, increased body weight, and a sedentary lifestyle all increase and the prevalence of obesity and diabetes mellitus reach epidemic proportions globally.

The traditional nonsurgical approach to managing CAD has been through treatment of risk factors such as dyslipidemia, hypertension, diabetes, obesity and others. New and innovative approaches, which act directly on the disease in the vessel wall to slow the progression of, regress, or stabilize the atherosclerotic plaque, could be important, especially when linked to novel biomarkers of vulnerable plaque.

“This is an area of high unmet medical need: atherosclerosis is a primary cause of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality,” said Bjorn Wallmark, vice president of cardiovascular and gastrointestinal research, AstraZeneca. “AstraZeneca is committed to finding innovative solutions. By partnering with the University of Virginia and working together on the complex biology of these diseases it increases the potential of delivering new treatment options.”

“We are very pleased to join AstraZeneca in advancing the science of cardiovascular research,” said Gary Owens, director of UVa’s Robert M. Berne Cardiovascular Research Center and UVa principal investigator of the AstraZeneca-UVa Alliance. “Our partnership has the potential to greatly speed up the development of novel drugs to treat diseases in several targeted areas, taking these projects years ahead in some cases.”

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