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The University of Pittsburgh announced on Nov. 9, 2015 a new research collaboration with biopharmaceutical company, Shire plc.
This partnership is intended to focus on the advancement of potential treatments for rare diseases.
“This collaboration has enormous potential to take what our scientists have already learned and will discover about rare illnesses, and apply this new knowledge to improve the care of patients who have otherwise garnered little attention,” said Arthur S. Levine, MD, Pitt’s senior vice-chancellor for the health sciences and John and Gertrude Petersen Dean of Medicine. “We can and very much want to make a difference for these families and are glad to have an opportunity to do so.”
Under the agreement, Pitt and Shire will issue joint request-for-proposals to University scientists. Selected projects will be funded by Shire and could ultimately result in a licensing agreement.
Scientists at the Health Sciences School at Pitt have focused research on rare diseases such as cutis laxa, Huntington’s disease, demyelinating brain disorders, and vascular malformations, such as hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia.
According to patient advocacy organization Global Genes, rare diseases affect more than 320 million people worldwide-10 times the number affected by all cancers combined and approximately the same number who suffer from the global epidemic of diabetes.
Scientists have identified thousands of rare diseases, often having origins in genetic mutations that can be passed from one generation to the next. These diseases are usually extremely severe, cause significant suffering, and very often result in death early in life.
Source: The University of Pittsburgh