Bayer HealthCare has signed a master collaboration agreement with the California-based Children's Hospital & Research Center Oakland to research hemoglobin disorders, particularly in the area of sickle cell anemia. The agreement aims to utilize promising research approaches to help identify potential new therapies for the rare blood disease.
Scientists based at Bayer HealthCare's U.S. Innovation Center in San Francisco's Mission Bay will work with Children’s Hospital researchers and have formed a joint steering committee to coordinate the research efforts which will be funded by Bayer.
Approximately 5% of the world's population carries trait genes for hemoglobin disorders, mainly sickle cell anemia and thalassemia, according to the World Health Organization. The exact number of people living with sickle cell anemia worldwide or in the U.S. is unknown but the Center for Disease Control estimates sickle cell anemia affects between 90,000 and 100,000 Americans.
"We believe that the expertise of Children’s Hospital researchers' in sickle cell anemia combined with Bayer's expertise in developing therapies for blood diseases will pave the way for innovative research projects that will help improve our understanding in this area and can lead to new treatment options for patients suffering from this rare disease," said Prof. Dr. Andreas Busch, member of the Bayer HealthCare Executive Committee and Head of Global Drug Discovery. "We believe such collaborations between industry and academia can speed up the development of innovative treatments in areas with high unmet medical need."
"Children's Hospital & Research Center Oakland has long been committed to helping this particular patient population and with Bayer's proven expertise in drug development we can help to bring new treatments to the benefit of these patients in a timely manner," said Dr. Elliott Vichinsky, head of the hematology oncology department at Children's Hospital.
As part of the company's overall innovation strategy, Bayer is expanding its collaborative relationships with academia and life science firms all over the world. In the U.S. a dedicated team of scientists at the company's U.S. Innovation Center in San Francisco is charged with identifying and facilitating discovery stage research collaborations for the company.
About sickle cell anemia
Sickle cell anemia is an inherited blood disorder that affects red blood cells. People with sickle cell anemia have a mutation in their hemoglobin gene that results in red blood cells that contain an abnormal type of hemoglobin. Sometimes these red blood cells do not bind oxygen properly, become sickle-shaped and have difficulty passing through small blood vessels. When sickle-shaped cells block small blood vessels, less blood can reach that part of the body. Tissues that do not receive an adequate blood flow eventually suffer damage. This is what causes the complications of sickle cell anemia. The recurrent pain caused by the disease can interfere with many aspects of the patient's social life, including education and employment. There is currently no cure for this rare blood disease. An estimated 100,000 people in the U.S. live with sickle cell anemia and millions are affected globally.
About the Children's Hospital & Research Center Oakland
The Children's Hospital & Research Center Oakland is home to the largest sickle cell and thalassemia program in the western United States. The comprehensive program includes inpatient and outpatient services, and although a pediatric institution also takes care of a growing population of adult patients affected by the diseases. The red blood cell laboratory (www.rbclab.com) at Children's Hospital Research Institute headed by Dr. Frans Kuypers, partners with the hematology department to find new treatment options for sickle cell disease and thalassemia.
About Bayer HealthCare
The Bayer Group is a global enterprise with core competencies in the fields of health care, agriculture and high-tech materials. Bayer HealthCare, a subgroup of Bayer AG with annual sales of EUR 18.6 billion (2012), is one of the world’s leading, innovative companies in the healthcare and medical products industry and is based in Leverkusen, Germany. The company combines the global activities of the Animal Health, Consumer Care, Medical Care and Pharmaceuticals divisions. Bayer HealthCare's aim is to discover, develop, manufacture and market products that will improve human and animal health worldwide. Bayer HealthCare has a global workforce of 55,300 employees (Dec 31, 2012) and is represented in more than 100 countries.