Alexion, UConn Partner to Fight Rare Diseases

December 19, 2016

New Haven-based bio-pharmaceutical company Alexion Pharmaceuticals is working with the University of Connecticut to create a fund to support transitional research into rare disease, officials with the company and the school said Thursday.

The project is a natural fit for Alexion, which is focused on developing drugs to treat rare diseases. The company has a pair of drugs currently on the market: Strensiq, used to treat hypophosphatasia, a disorder that interrupts a process called mineralization, in which minerals such as calcium and phosphorus are deposited in developing bones and teeth; and Soliris, used to treat paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria, a rare, acquired, potentially life-threatening blood disease. It is also used to help patients with atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome, a rare disease among children that causes kidney failure and high blood pressure.

“We are very pleased to be partnering with UConn to drive academic exploration that will enable the development of much-needed therapies for patients with rare and devastating diseases that are often overlooked,” said Martin Mackay, Alexion’s executive vice president and global head of research and development. “The creation of the fund reflects our commitment to working with local partners and builds upon our successful, ongoing colaborations with UConn, a recognized leader in translational research.”

The agreement between the company and the school calls for funding for up to four UConn research projects in rare diseases for a period of up to two years per project.

Jeff Seemann, vice president for research at UConn and UConn Health, said it makes sense for the company and researchers at the school.

“Leveraging the expertise of the world leader in rare diseases … and the unique research capabilities of the state’s flagship public research institution will lead to innovative discoveries that support the state’s economic growth and have the potential to benefit patients around the world,” Seemann said.

UConn researchers do work in the fields of genomics, advanced materials, cell biology, cardiovascular research, additive manufacturing, biomedical devices, cybersecurity and nanotechnology, according to university officials.


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