News Feature | July 8, 2014

Bayer Allies With University Of Oxford In Gynecological Therapies

By Estel Grace Masangkay

Bayer announced that it has entered into partnership with the University of Oxford for the development of new gynecological therapies, particularly in the area of endometriosis and uterine fibroids.

Under the terms of the collaboration, both Bayer and the University of Oxford will co-develop novel drug targets and contribute their technology infrastructures. Joint research projects will be conducted at the University of Oxford and at the Bayer HealthCare R&D Center in Berlin, Germany, with both parties carrying out the preclinical research to early clinical trials in the two disease targets.

The partnership will run for an initial period of two years but could be extended for upwards of five years, if necessary. The pharmaceutical company has the option to license both targets and lead drug candidates. Should this end up being the case, Bayer will also shoulder any subsequent clinical development and marketing for those candidates. The University will receive milestone and royalty payments based on the development and successful approval of resulting leads from the collaboration. No financial details were disclosed by either party.

“The collaboration provides us with the opportunity to jointly develop novel treatment options for women suffering from these debilitating diseases,” said Professor Dr. Andreas Busch, Head of Global Drug Discovery and Member of the Bayer HealthCare Executive Committee.

Endometriosis is caused by the abnormal growth of endometrial tissue in areas outside the uterine cavity which leads to ectopic lesions. The disease affects around 176 million women around the world or 10 percent of women in child-bearing age. Endometriosis is linked with sub-fertility, chronic pain in the pelvis, and painful menstrual periods.

Professor Andrew Hamilton, Vice Chancellor of the University of Oxford, said, “This collaboration draws on the particular skill sets of each partner in the development of innovative new therapies that could benefit millions of women around the world, and shows Oxford’s commitment to work jointly with industry to develop novel medicines.” The University of Oxford has also been in a partnership with biopharma company, UCB, since March 2012 focused on the areas of immunology and neurology.

This partnership is part of Bayer’s overarching strategy to bring more drug candidates into the women’s health area. Last October, the company announced that it was accelerating the development of five new drugs in oncology, cardiology, and women’s health with the hopes of reaching Phase III clinical studies by 2015. In particular, of these five, the company has been working on sPRM, an oral progesterone receptor modulator for the treatment of uterine fibroids.