Irish Medical University and Bayer Partner to Advance Treatments for Hemophilia

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by Diogo Pinto |

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RCSI, Bayer collaboration

The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and Bayer will collaborate to develop improved treatments for patients with severe hemophilia.

The research collaboration will focus on personalized treatments adapted to the severity of each patient’s condition to achieve safer and more effective blood clotting in hemophilia patients.

“The aim of our study is to engineer new therapeutics with clotting properties that can be ‘tuned’ to match the needs of each person being treated,” Roger Preston, the study’s principal investigator and a professor at RCSI — one of the top 250 universities worldwide, according to Times Higher Education magazine — said in a news release.

“We hope to develop treatments that can promote blood clotting with increased precision in order to improve the quality of life for people with hemophilia and other individuals at increased risk of bleeding,” Preston said.

Hemophilia is caused by mutations in genes that provide instructions to make key blood clotting proteins called factors. Hemophilia A, in particular, results from mutations in the gene that gives rise to factor VIII (FVIII).

Patients with severe hemophilia A are at an increased risk of bleeding since their levels of FVIII are less than 1 percent of that observed in healthy people. Standard treatment involves regular administration of FVIII replacement therapy.

Among its other medications, Bayer advances therapies for hemophilia, including the company’s investigational treatment BAY94-9027, which was accepted for review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a potential therapy for hemophilia A.

In July 2017, Bayer awarded $2 million in hemophilia research and patient-care grants for 16 scientists and doctors from eight different countries, reinforcing the company’s commitment to find a cure for the disease.

Now, the company granted Preston’s team a special project award of €200,000 (about $232,000 U.S.) as part of the Bayer Hemophilia Awards Program (BHAP), a prestigious international award program designed to support basic and clinical research into the disease.

The program is expected to contribute toward the development of the next generation of care and treatment options for hemophilia patients worldwide.

“Since its establishment 15 years ago, the ultimate goal of BHAP has been to support research that has the potential to have a significant impact on our understanding of hemophilia and bleeding disorders,” said Tristan Cooper, MD, medical director at Bayer.

“BHAP continues to be a tangible reflection of Bayer’s ongoing commitment to research and advancing scientific knowledge that improves patient care,” Cooper added. “We are proud to recognize and award Dr. Preston for his expertise and commitment in his field.”

The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) is also committed to fighting hemophilia by providing extensive education and training to healthcare professionals in the field, as well as by investing its knowledge of hemophilia in new cellular and molecular therapies.

“RCSI is delighted to announce this collaboration between Dr. Preston and Bayer,” said Prof. Cathal Kelly, the CEO of RCSI. “This partnership exemplifies how collaboration between academia and industry can help improve the health of people with hemophilia through the high quality, impactful scientific research taking place at the Irish Center for Vascular Biology here at RCSI.”