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AstraZeneca and the University of Virginia sign strategic research collaboration to develop novel treatments for cardiovascular disease

AstraZeneca and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville recently announced that they have entered into a strategic research collaboration to enhance the development of new treatments primarily for coronary artery disease with a secondary focus on peripheral vascular disease.

The collaborative preclinical research projects will focus on identifying disease mechanisms and biological targets that have the potential to be starting points for successful and commercially viable treatments of these diseases, which are both major causes of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality worldwide. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Atherosclerosis is one of the primary causes of heart diseases, stroke and often death in both men and women in Western societies. All evidence suggests that this will increase further as risk factors such as poor diet, increased body weight and sedentary lifestyle all increase and the prevalence of obesity and diabetes mellitus reach epidemic proportions globally.

The traditional nonsurgical approach to managing coronary artery disease (CAD) has been through the treatment of risk factors such as dyslipidemia, hypertension, diabetes, obesity and others. New and innovative approaches – which act directly on the disease in the vessel wall to slow the progression of, regress or stabilise the atherosclerotic plaque – could be important, especially when linked to novel biomarkers of vulnerable plaque.

Bjorn Wallmark, Vice President of Cardiovascular & Gastrointestinal Research, AstraZeneca, said: ‘This is an area of high unmet medical need: atherosclerosis is a primary cause of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. AstraZeneca is committed to finding innovative solutions. By partnering with the University of Virginia and working together on the complex biology of these diseases it increases the potential of delivering new treatment options’.

Thomas Skalak, University of Virginia’s Vice President for Research, said: ‘The University of Virginia has a commitment to engage in explorations at the frontiers of medicine, and AstraZeneca's choice of UVa as a global partner indicates the strength of our cardiovascular research and innovation capabilities.’

‘We found a happy convergence of leadership styles between AstraZeneca and UVa in our shared philosophy of risk-taking, outcomes focus, and collaboration-based research.’

The agreement supports a multi-year relationship that aims to make efficient use of scientific expertise from both the University of Virginia and AstraZeneca to find optimal treatments for patients with CAD and peripheral vascular disease as quickly as possible.

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