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The grants will be offered to investigators conducting research in the field of PCSK9 biology.
Pfizer announced on Apr. 9, 2015 that it will fund a new competitive grants program to support research investigating the role of proprotein convertase subtilisin kexin type 9 (PCSK9) in cardiovascular disease. PCSK9 inhibitors drugs are thought to maintain cholesterol homeostasis.
The program, which is an extension of the Advancing Science through Pfizer Investigator Research Exchange (ASPIRE), will provide grants of up to $100,000 to uncover new insights about PCSK9, including its role in lipoprotein metabolism, how it interacts with the immune system, and its potential role in the treatment of infectious diseases and vascular diseases, among many other areas of research. "It is our earnest desire that the research projects selected will advance the current understanding of PCSK9 biology and, in this way, contribute significantly to the next generation of potential therapies targeted to cardiovascular diseases," said Professor John Chapman, director emeritus of the Dyslipidemia and Atherosclerosis Research Unit of the National Institute for Health and Medical Research (INSERM) at the Pitié-Salpétrière University Hospital in Paris, France, in a press release.
Preliminary studies have shown that these investigational monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) significantly reduce the incidence of cardiovascular events in patients with hypercholesteremia and are associated with an approximately 60% reduction in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol when compared with the current standard of care.
Amgen’s Repatha (evolocumab) and Sanofi and Regeneron’s Praluent (alirocumab) will be fierce competitors in the PCSK9 space. Praluent was granted Priority Review by FDA on Jan. 26, 2015 and its target action date is July 24, 2015. Repatha's action date is shortly thereafter, while Alnylam and Pfizer's candidate, bococizumab, is still in Phase III trials. According to many payers and pharmacy benefit managers, PCSK9 inhibitors could be the highest-selling class in history-and these hypercholesterolemia products are projected to cost $10,000 or more per patient.