This excerpt taken from the NVS 6-K filed Feb 4, 2005.
Integrated Programs: Diabetes and Heart Disease
More than 100 million patients worldwide suffer from a combined disorder characterized by insulin resistance and the presence of obesity, abdominal fat, high blood sugar and triglycerides, high blood cholesterol, and high blood pressure. This disorder is so common that it has been given its own name: metabolic syndrome. The blood vessels in such patients are inflamed, and vessel obstruction with heart attack or stroke, is common. Lipids in their blood are abnormal, which exacerbates the vessel disease.
Such patients are one focus of efforts in both the Cardiovascular and Diabetes disease areas. The Cardiovascular group is directed by Seigo Izumo, M.D., a cardiologist and molecular biologist recruited to NIBR last year from Harvard Medical School. The Diabetes group is led by Dr. Thomas Hughes, an expert in metabolic diseases, diabetes, and lipid disorders, who already has an impressive track record in bringing new medicines to the clinic.
Together these scientists and their colleagues are using molecular understanding of the control of lipid metabolism, vessel biology, and atherosclerosis to design a repertoire of new medicines that can treat the underlying causes of metabolic syndrome. They and their teams, working near each other in the Cambridge laboratories, share experiences learned from their very different backgrounds in academia, biotech, and pharmaceutical discovery.
In addition to metabolic syndrome, each group has other specialized, targeted research programs. For example, Dr. Izumo's group is engaged in an effort designed specifically for discovery of medicines to treat hypertension. Despite therapy, nearly 50% of patients today do not have their blood pressure controlled sufficiently to lower their risk of heart disease and stroke. The Cardiovascular group, using new knowledge of genes involved in hypertension, is investigating the possibility of an entire new range of antihypertensive agents. In this effort, Dr. Izumo is joined by a fundamental research program in Basel, led by Dr. Sylvain Cottens, a chemist experienced in the use of crystallography to guide design of medicines by understanding the atomic structure of the target protein, and by the medicinal chemists at the NIBR site in Tsukuba, Japan.
When the heart fails to pump adequately, whether because of heart attacks, hypertension or other causes, today's medicines offer only limited palliation. Yet we do know that the heart normally can adapt to such stresses. The transition from adaptation to failure is accompanied by essential molecular changes in the heart; and through an integrated program with the biotechnology company Myogen, Dr. Izumo and his team are exploring how to restore the pump function.
Dr. Hughes, in seeking novel therapies for diabetes, can examine the individual role of nearly every one of our 24 000 or so genes, in controlling cellular metabolism, using the genomic tools established by Dr. Dalia Cohen and her Functional Genomics group at NIBR. In addition, Dr. Hughes is looking to a future of medicines better tuned to individuals, through his new collaborative human gene discovery program with scientists from the adjacent Eli and Edythe Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT (see below).
These are only some examples of the breadth and depth of NIBR's scientific programs. As is evident, NIBR scientists identify strategic external opportunities that enhance their internal work, as well as expanding into additional areas of unmet medical need.