Diabetes and diabetic complications

QRbeta Therapeutics

In April 2020, Evotec regained global rights to a promising beta cell replacement therapy for the treatment of diabetes from Sanofi.
Evotec has built a unique platform for iPSC-based drug discovery and cell therapy covering the generation of iPS cell lines, up to cell manufacturing of various cell types for drug screening as well as GMP production of clinical material for cell therapies. Evotec produces human beta cells in islet-like clusters from a GMP-compliant iPS cell line in a scalable bioreactor format, with extensive quality control (“QC”) procedures. The beta cell programme (now “QRbeta Therapeutics”) has already achieved pre-clinical data demonstrating that they are functionally equivalent to primary human islets in their ability to normalise blood glucose levels in in vivo models over several months.  

Evotec will continue the development of the beta cell programme on its own within its EVT Innovate initiative “QRbeta Therapeutics”. In parallel, Evotec will explore the best strategic options for further long-term development and commercialisation.

NURTURE/ Kidney disease

In June 2017, Evotec announced that it has joined the NURTuRE consortium to drive kidney disease focused drug discovery based on patient derived-data. NURTuRE is uniquely positioned to collect clinical data at the UK Renal Registry and analyse samples of 14 kidney disease centres in the UK, constituting one of the largest kidney patient registries worldwide.

The NURTuRE consortium will initially focus on chronic kidney disease ("CKD") and nephrotic syndrome ("NS") patients and will leverage established institutions such as the UK Renal Registry and Evotec's integrated kidney drug discovery platform. Alongside other consortium members, Evotec will access patient samples including kidney biopsies, blood, serum and urine for an in-depth histological and molecular analysis to identify and validate targets and biomarkers.

Kidney disease has emerged as a global epidemic. Currently no treatment options that have the potential to slow down or stop CKD disease progression are available. Detailed understanding of patho-mechanisms based on well-characterised patient samples will allow the identification and exploration of novel genetic and metabolic components, which are key drivers of kidney diseases. This approach will lead to a new generation of drug candidates in the field of kidney diseases being developed based on human biology and pathophysiology.

About NURTuRE

Developed in the first instance to collect and store biological samples from 3,000 patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and at least 800 patients with nephrotic syndrome (NS), the biobank will provide a strategic resource for fundamental and translational research. In addition to the samples of plasma, serum, urine, DNA and tissue that will be stored, the repository will also have the considerable advantage of containing associated linked clinical data, through the UK Renal Registry.

Running over a five-year period, the samples will be obtained through 14 NHS Trusts, with patients followed up at specific intervals. From mid-2018, all researchers will be able to apply for access to samples stored in the biobank for future studies.

The biobank is funded by AbbVie Inc, Evotec, UCB Celltech Biopharma and Kidney Research UK. Experts from the University of Bristol and the University of Nottingham form the core academic team overseeing all operational delivery. Biomarker analysis will take place at the University of Geneva and histopathological (tissue) analysis at the University of Birmingham. More information is available here: nurturebiobank 

NEPLEX

In November 2017, Evotec announced a strategic collaboration on microfluidics technology including induced pluripotent stem cell ("iPSC") differentiation with leading academic institutions in the UK and Italy to accelerate the discovery of novel drugs to treat kidney diseases. The collaboration will combine key technologies from Evotec and the academic institutions to develop a novel drug discovery device ("Nephron-on-a-Chip"). It will merge state-of-the-art microfluidics technology established at the Cambridge University with world-class expertise in iPSC technology and kidney disease from the University of Bristol, the Mario Negri Institute in Bergamo and from Evotec.

The goal of the NEPLEX ("NEPHRON-ON-A-CHIP WITH CELLULAR AND EXTRACELLULAR MATRIX COMPLEXITY") consortium is to develop a functional Nephron-on-a-Chip that reflects both the filtration area as well as the resorption area of a human kidney. The functional nephrons will be based on fully characterised human cell lines and iPSC-derived human kidney cells. Prof. Moin Saleem and his group from the University of Bristol will contribute human kidney cell lines focusing on the resorption unit, Dr Yan Yan Shery Huang and her lab from the University of Cambridge will develop the glomerular part of the chip, Dr Christodoulos Xinaris and his colleagues from the Mario Negri Institute will provide human iPSC lines and expertise. Evotec will add its state-of-the-art iPSC and kidney disease platforms. The device will allow testing of drug candidates in a fully human nephron already in the pre-clinic and thereby improve and accelerate drug discovery in the field of kidney diseases.

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