Collaboration will fund research to develop new drugs to treat gastrointestinal disorders

illustration of digestive system
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New York University, Columbia University, and Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited (“Takeda”) have formed a collaborative research alliance to begin and advance gastroenterology research programs, with the goal of developing new therapies for patients with gastrointestinal and liver disorders.

Under the five-year agreement, Takeda will provide seed funding for pilot and feasibility studies at NYU and Columbia; successful projects will be eligible to apply for additional funding for larger studies.

“We are excited to align with New York University and Columbia University to advance scientific discovery in disease and drug development,” said Gareth Hicks, PhD, Head of the Gastrointestinal Drug Discovery Unit at Takeda. “Takeda looks forward to working together with the universities to successfully bring forth the most innovative, differentiated ideas to design and translate early research into therapeutics for patients with significant unmet liver and gastrointestinal disorders.” 

“Through this unique partnership between academia and industry, our goal is to develop better drugs for common yet debilitating diseases of the liver and gastrointestinal system that are not well managed by existing therapies,” said Nigel Bunnett, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Molecular Pathobiology at NYU College of Dentistry, who will lead the collaboration at NYU. “It’s an exciting opportunity to cultivate projects in the lab and hopefully translate them into promising clinical treatments.”

“We are excited to see this agreement come to fruition as it will stimulate GI & Liver research,” said Timothy Wang, MD, Silberberg Professor of Medicine and GI Division Chief at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians & Surgeons, who will lead the collaboration at Columbia. “This alliance will hopefully accelerate breakthroughs made in research labs, with a goal of shortening the time it takes to turn initial scientific discoveries into readily available therapeutics that benefit patients.”   

Takeda’s Gastrointestinal Drug Discovery Unit is focused on several target areas, including gut inflammation (e.g. Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, celiac disease), liver disease, and motility disorders (e.g. nausea, vomiting, incontinence). It is also pursuing innovations in gene therapy and drug delivery as well as ways to improve translational and clinical research.

The collaboration will build on and enhance existing gastroenterology research at NYU and Columbia. In a recently published study focused on treating chronic pain in inflammatory bowel disease, NYU and Columbia researchers were part of an international team that identified a promising target for pain relief and used nanoparticles to successfully deliver a drug to this target.

The research alliance is currently soliciting proposals for studies from NYU and Columbia investigators; the first round of projects is expected to begin this fall. Takeda will have the option to license intellectual property developed through this research alliance.

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