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Bristol part of European initiative to study diabetic kidney disease

7 February 2017

Researchers from the University of Bristol are part of a major pan European €28.9 million initiative that aims to improve the prevention and management of diabetic kidney disease (DKD), which is the leading cause of kidney failure in the world.

The project called BEAt-DKD (Biomarker Enterprise to Attack Diabetic Kidney Disease), will be led in Bristol by Richard Coward, Professor of Renal Medicine in the School of Clinical Sciences, who is also the European co-lead in the experimental work, which explore the molecular mechanisms underpinning DKD. The project will allow the teams in the School of Clinical Sciences, led by Professor Coward together with Professor Moin Saleem and Dr Simon Satchell, to work closely together on this issue.

BEAt-DKD is a unique five-year public private partnership funded by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), member companies from the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) and the state of Switzerland.

At the moment, there are no means to effectively prevent or cure DKD, which has reached epidemic dimensions and is the leading cause of end-stage renal disease. DKD patients are a very sick population with mortalities exceeding most cancers and who are underserved by inefficient and unsuccessful drug development. DKD remains a large unmet medical need.

Professor Coward, discussing the project, said:

BEAt-DKD will study thousands of patients affected with DKD across Europe. We hope to discover key factors that predict which patients will progress into kidney failure and require kidney dialysis or transplantation. The project also hopes to identify key pathways that may be manipulated to treat patients with this condition.”

Leading experts from 21 academic institutions, six EFPIA pharmaceutical companies, one biotech company and JDRF launched BEAt-DKD on Monday 6 February to provide a holistic systems medicine view of the pathogenesis and heterogeneity of DKD, with the goal to identify targetable mechanisms and pathways underlying initiation and progression of DKD, as well as to identify and validate biomarkers of disease progression and treatment responses, representing first steps towards precision medicine in DKD.

Maria Gomez, project co-ordinator and Professor at Lund University, said:

“We are very excited to have gathered so many brilliant and truly dedicated investigators, impressive materials and innovative techniques in this unprecedented joint effort to make a real difference for patients with DKD.”

Dennis Andress, project leader from pharmaceutical company Abbvie, added:

“This project represents one of the largest and most complete analysis of clinical data for identifying potential biomarkers for DKD and it will establish a new paradigm for precision medicine in the management of DKD.”

The BEAt-DKD team, coordinated by the University of Lund, Abbvie, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Helsinki and Sanofi, is committed to delivering better stratification of patients and more effective tools for use in innovative clinical trials, resulting in improved prevention and management of DKD, such as steps towards precision medicine.

BEAt-DKD plans to build upon:

  • access to large observational prospective cohorts with comprehensive genetic analyses and rich longitudinal clinical and biochemical data and samples from patients with DKD
  • vast expertise in the development and use of novel genetic, epigenetic, biochemical and physiological experimental tools and approaches, including validated animal models of DKD for translational research
  • extensive expertise in the development and validation of novel imaging approaches
  • the ability to combine existing and novel datasets through effective data federation and use of systems biology approaches towards precision medicine
  • expertise in regulatory approval, health economics and patient engagement

BEAt-DKD will also capitalize from extensive and unique resources developed by previous IMI and FP7 projects. Results from this project are expected to translate into patient benefits and decreased societal costs associated with DKD.

Bristol part of European initiative to study diabetic kidney disease
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