Yale-Debiopharm Collaboration Advancing Small Molecule Drug Therapies

April 30, 2014

Yale University is announcing a new research collaboration with Debiopharm Group to discover and develop first-in-class compounds that inhibit Macropharge Migration Inhibitory Factor (MIF), a protein that has been linked to the development of several autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.

“We are very pleased to announce this new research collaboration with top-ranked Yale University,” says Thierry Mauvernay, Delegate of the Board, Debiopharm Group, a Swiss-based biopharmaceutical company that is developing drugs that target unmet medical needs as well as companion diagnostics. “We are convinced that building a strong relationship with leading, medically-focused academic institutes is a productive way of providing drugs for tomorrow.”

Yale researchers William L. Jorgensen, PhD, Sterling Professor of Chemistry and Director of the Division of Physical Sciences and Engineering and Richard Bucala, MD, PhD, Professor of Medicine, Epidemiology and Pathology, are leading the Yale scientific team designing small molecule antagonists to block inflammation in patients.

“Debiopharm’s reputation for early stage drug development is well known, and this is an exciting new therapeutic approach that may ultimately allow us to tailor treatment to a patient’s immunogenetic profile,” says Bucala whose team discovered the target and will be evaluating the biologic activity of antagonists to help design and select the best preclinical candidates.

Jorgensen, who is responsible for designing and synthesizing the compounds, adds: “The project is progressing well with great synergies between computer-aided molecular design, synthetic chemistry, crystallography and biology. We are delighted with Debiopharm’s participation, which is essential for spearheading the preclinical and clinical efforts.”

The collaboration was orchestrated by the Yale Office of Cooperative Research and will accelerate this research to drug discovery and ultimately providing new treatments for patients suffering from arthritis, multiple sclerosis and more.

“This is a great example of how scientists of academia and industry can put their efforts together to bring solutions to pressing medical needs in a more efficient manner,” says Andrés McAllister, Chief Scientific Officer, Debiopharm International SA.

Contact: Brita Belli, Communications Officer, Yale Office of Cooperative Research, (203)436-4933, brita.belli@yale.edu