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Bristol part of European initiative to study diabetic kidney disease

Press release issued: 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 yesterday [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; and
  • 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.

Further information

About BEAt-DKD
Diabetic kidney disease (DKD) is the most common form of chronic kidney disease (CKD), which at present affects more than ten per cent of the world population. Unfortunately, there are no effective means to prevent or cure DKD. Apart from Renin-Angiotensin-Aldosterone System (RAAS) blockade, which has limited effect, very few alternative therapies have emerged. Lack of predictive and prognostic biomarkers for an accurate patient stratification, limited access to kidney tissue from patients at various stages of DKD and to appropriate model systems to better understand the pathogenesis of the disease, are likely reasons for the stagnating development of new treatments.

BEAt-DKD participants are Lunds universitet, University of Helsinki, Academisch Ziekenhuis Groningen (University Medical Center Groningen), University of Oxford, University of Eastern Finland, University of Dundee, University of Exeter, Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri, Turun Yliopisto (University of Turku), Universitätsklinikum Freiburg, University of Bristol, University of Leeds, University of Hull, CHU Hopitaux de Bordeaux, University Clinic Erlangen, Medizinische Universität Innsbruck, Klinikum der Universität Regensburg,  Medizinische Universität Wien, Università degli Studi di Bari Aldo Moro, Lypotype, University of Michigan, Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, JDRF International, AbbVie, Sanofi-Aventis, Astellas, Eli Lilly, Bayer Pharma, and Novo Nordisk.

About IMI
The Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) is Europe’s largest public-private initiative aiming to improve health by speeding up the development of, and patient access to, innovative medicines, particularly in areas where there is an unmet medical or social need. It does this by facilitating collaboration between the key players involved in healthcare research, including universities, the pharmaceutical and other industries, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), patient organisations, and medicines regulators. IMI is a partnership between the European Union (represented by the European Commission) and the European pharmaceutical industry (represented by EFPIA, the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations).

BEAt-DKD has received funding from the Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking under grant agreement No 115974. This Joint Undertaking receives support from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and EFPIA companies.

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