Four Points Innovation Funds Research Collaboration Between Duke University and The University of Manchester
February 23, 2023 08:00 AM Eastern Standard Time
DURHAM, N.C.–A collaborative therapeutic development endeavor between researchers at Duke University and The University of Manchester has received funding from Four Points Innovation, LLC. Four Points Innovation, LLC, a private company wholly-owned by affiliates of Deerfield Management, a healthcare investment firm, was established as a vehicle to facilitate the research collaboration between Duke and Deerfield Management and is focused on supporting and accelerating the translation of research into new therapies that aim to treat and cure society’s most formidable healthcare challenges. This is the first investment in a project by Four Points Innovation, LLC.
This investment aims to accelerate research to develop a novel therapy to treat a genetic condition called Alport syndrome. The teams at The University of Manchester and Duke University have complementary scientific expertise and have been collaborating on basement membrane research since 2017, including recent discoveries about human disease associations.
“Alport syndrome affects around 1 in 5,000 individuals and is caused by alterations in collagen genes leading to kidney failure, hearing loss, and eye problems,” said team member and Alport syndrome expert Rachel Lennon, Pediatric Nephrologist and Director of the Wellcome Centre for Cell-Matrix Research at The University of Manchester.
Though there are treatments that can slow the progression of the kidney disease, there are currently no therapies that address the root cause of Alport syndrome, genetic variants that disrupt the genes encoding collagen IV, which is found throughout the body in a protein meshwork called the basement membrane.
“Fixing collagen in the kidney basement membrane is exciting, as this should also open new therapies for basement membrane-associated pathologies in other organ systems, such as in blood vessels, muscles, eyes, and ears,” said team member David R. Sherwood, Jerry G. and Patricia Crawford Hubbard Professor of Biology at Duke University.
“We’re very happy to get our first Four Points funded project off and running,” said Robin Rasor, Associate Vice President for Translation & Commercialization at Duke University. “Starting the program right at the beginning of COVID set us back and we hope to quickly make up for the slow start.”
Through Four Points Innovation, Deerfield has committed up to $130 million of funding for 10 years for Duke-affiliated preclinical development of new drugs for improved quality of life and cures for disease.
“This project has great potential and illustrates the unique opportunity presented by this funding mechanism,” said Bryan Baines, Director of Scientific Collaborations, Duke University Liaison to Four Points Innovation. “It’s seizing on the strengths of the research coming from both Duke and The University of Manchester and catalyzing a milestone-driven research plan. In the absence of this arrangement with Deerfield, it is difficult to envision that this project would have gotten off the ground through more customary funding vehicles.”
For accepted projects like this, Deerfield’s Discovery and Development team, “3DC”, will work collaboratively with the Principal Investigators (PI) to create a tailored work plan that aims to deliver the targeted therapeutic with maximum efficiency. PIs focus on the research activities that their labs are uniquely qualified to conduct and 3DC provides significant functional, drug development expertise to collectively drive the development of a therapeutic towards Investigational New Drug (IND) readiness. Successful projects that achieve IND-enabled status may be eligible for additional capital investment from Deerfield.
“We are excited to launch our first project with Four Points and begin our collaborative work to translate this novel therapy into a potential treatment” said Michael Foley, PhD, CEO, Deerfield Discovery and Development at Deerfield.
Duke-affiliated researchers who are interested in submitting proposals to the Four Points Innovation collaboration may reach out to Bryan Baines at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
About Deerfield Management
Deerfield is an investment management firm committed to advancing healthcare through investment, information and philanthropy. The Firm works across the healthcare ecosystem to connect people, capital, ideas and technology in bold, collaborative and inclusive ways. For more information, please visit www.deerfield.com.