AstraZeneca has announced a research collaboration with Shenzhen University Health Science Center. The partners will undertake preclinical research focused on chronic kidney disease (CKD), which represents a large and growing unmet medical need in China.
In 2010, there were over 112 million kidney disease sufferers in China and this number is expected to rise 20% to more than 135 million by 2025.
Scientists from Shenzhen University Health Science Center's Nephrology and Urology Center will work in collaboration with teams from AstraZeneca's Innovation Center China in Shanghai, bringing together complementary skills to harness and foster medical innovation: Shenzhen University's academic and clinical capabilities and AstraZeneca's global research and drug discovery. Financial details of the agreement have not been disclosed.
The partners will focus on diabetic nephropathy, damage to the kidneys caused by diabetes which, in severe cases, can lead to kidney failure. While not all diabetes patients have kidney damage, it is growing at exponential rates in China. Between 2010 and 2025, the number of patients who experience kidney failure as a result of diabetic complications is expected to increase nearly 80% in China, to over 18 million patients. China has overtaken the U.S. in the prevalence of diabetes, with nearly 114 million Chinese citizens, or 11.5% of all adults, living with the disease in 2010.
"This collaboration signifies an expansion into an important new disease area for AstraZeneca's drug discovery efforts here in China," said Steve Yang, vice president and head of the company's Asia and Emerging Markets Innovative Medicines Unit. "Last year, we delivered the first AstraZeneca preclinical candidate drug to be discovered by our scientists in China, in oncology. And now, in addition to our ongoing research efforts in oncology, we also are putting our talented scientists to work in CKD—another area of unmet medical need. This demonstrates our commitment to R&D in China through both internal capability building and external partnerships."
He added that this partnership builds on AstraZeneca's strategic collaboration with Fibrogen, announced in July last year to develop and commercialize FG-4592, a first-in-class oral compound in late stage development for the treatment of with CKD and end-stage renal disease (ESRD) in key markets around the world, including China.
Xiaolin Zhang, head of AstraZeneca's Innovation Center China, said, "We see this program not just as an opportunity to help us discover new treatments but also a unique possibility for joint talent development." He added that the partners also are evaluating the establishment of a joint post doctorate program, which would pave the way for further enhancing scientific leadership and strengthen scientific interactions between the industry and academia.