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Babraham Institute to collaborate with Karus Therapeutics

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17 December 2012

Babraham Institute to collaborate with Karus Therapeutics to explore PI3 Kinase inhibitors in the treatment of inflammatory diseases

The Babraham Institute and Karus Therapeutics, a leader in the development of innovative medicines for the treatment of inflammatory disease and cancer, have announced that they have entered into a collaboration to further characterise novel treatments for inflammatory diseases, through the regulation of phosphatidylinositol-3-kinases (PI3K) - a family of enzymes important to immune cell function.

The Babraham Institute, which receives strategic funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), is a world-leading centre for studying the basic biology of signalling processes inside and between cells, supporting BBSRC's mission to drive advances in fundamental bioscience for better health throughout life. PI3Ks are known to have distinct roles in maintaining health and pathology and it is hoped that this collaboration will pave the way for more effective treatments for diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis as well as stimulating further 'knowledge exchange' partnerships to translate Institute research and deliver benefit to society and the economy.

The collaboration, led by Dr Stephen Shuttleworth, Chief Scientific Officer of Karus and Drs Len Stephens and Phillip Hawkins at the Babraham Institute, will further investigate PI3K signalling and the immune response, in particular the role of the different isoforms of the PI3K catalytic subunit p110 on neutrophil cell function.

Under the terms of the agreement, the team will further interrogate the mechanism by which Karus Therapeutics' PI3K-p110 beta and PI3K-p110 delta inhibitors impact on neutrophil function and immune responses, with the aim of developing more effective treatments for inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Dr Shuttleworth said, "Dr Stephens and Dr Hawkins are key opinion leaders in the area of PI3K biology, notably in the context of neutrophil function. They have recently made key discoveries that are having a significant impact on the design of isoform-selective PI3K inhibitors for the treatment of chronic immune disorders. I have successfully collaborated with the Babraham team in the past and am delighted to be working with them again at Karus."

Dr Hawkins added, "We have already shown in vivo that targeting of PI3K-p110 beta and PI3K-p110 delta is an effective way to treat rheumatoid arthritis in small animal models. By working with Karus, we gain unique access to scientific leadership in the field of PI3K inhibitor design and development. We look forward to working with Stephen and his team to convert scientific discovery into medical breakthrough."

Professor Michael Wakelam, Director of The Babraham Institute, added, "This exciting new collaboration with Karus, based on a long-standing working relationship with Babraham scientists, demonstrates the increasingly important role that 'knowledge exchange' partnerships play in helping to translate basic research and develop therapeutic strategies to improve lifelong health. The understanding of the PI3K pathway brought about in particular by many years of BBSRC-supported fundamental research in the Stephens/Hawkins lab has been critical in informing a number of companies, including Karus, in their aim to develop novel therapeutics. We are looking forward to further interaction between our institute scientists and industry to ensure that UK-funded research delivers the widest benefit to both society and the economy."

ENDS

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