Executive Spotlight: Ray Jupp, PhD, Vice President, Sanofi-Aventis Fibrosis and Wound Repair Therapeutic Strategy Unit
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In February 2011, sanofi-aventis (Bridgewater, NJ) and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre (Toronto, Canada) entered into a research agreement and licensing option for Vasculotide, an investigational compound to treat chronic wounds, including neuropathic (i.e., neuroischemic) diabetic foot ulcers. The agreement underscores Sanofi-aventis’ burgeoning interest in the wound care sector and its intent to translate innovative prototypes into therapies.
Ray Jupp, PhD, is Vice President of Sanofi’s Fibrosis & Wound Repair Therapeutic Strategy Unit, one of five Therapeutic Strategy Units created as part of the Company’s new research and development model. Three of these units cover major areas of pathophysiology where there is a significant unmet medical need — i.e., immuno-inflammatory disorders, infectious disease, and fibrosis and wound repair.
Dr. Jupp’s unit is focused on several areas:
• Therapeutic solutions for tissue injury, fibrosis and wound repair, including small molecules, biologics, botanical drugs, tissue engineering;
• Technologies that improve diagnostics related to tissue fibrosis, re-modeling or wound healing, including biomarkers and non-invasive technologies, such as imaging for patient stratification and clinical markers;
• Enhanced drug delivery (parenteral delivery devices/technologies, novel formulations, targeted organ delivery, sustained or controlled release technologies);
• New mechanistic pathways or targets regulating responses to tissue injury and repair processes;
• Novel approaches to diseases whose pathology is associated with acute or chronic tissue injury;
• Healthcare solutions for tissue repair, especially advanced wound care.
“The number of effective therapies for patients whose wounds don’t heal properly is limited,” says Dr. Jupp. “A large number of chronic wounds occur in patients with diabetes and we have a strong collaboration with our Diabetes Division to help these patients. This strategy is in sync with our goal to identify pathologies and mechanisms that run through many diseases. We started by listening to patients and clinicians to gain a pragmatic perspective and subsequently formed the Fibrosis & Wound Repair Therapeutic Strategy Unit to identify treatment solutions which may require fusion of distinct scientific disciplines including chemistry, pharmaceutics and material sciences. We are building on that plan by reaching out to academic institutions and biotech companies to form partnerships.”
Researchers at Stonybrook have been working for years on identifying a prototype molecule to improve healing. That molecule — Vasculotide — is a synthetic peptide-based growth factor that targets Tie-2, a receptor on specialized cells of the hematopoietic and vascular systems that may provide a shortcut to the series of molecular activities involved in blood vessel growth that ultimately lead to wound regranulation and closure. Once the prototype is ready for clinical trials, the Fibrosis & Wound Repair Therapeutic Strategy Unit will advance the development process by using the prototype to create a product, most likely topical, for chronic wounds. In addition to diabetic foot ulcers, research is also being conducted on the neuropathy and ischemic pathologies of other chronic wounds, such as venous leg ulcers.
“We recognize we have to move in new directions,” Dr. Jupp says. “The industry as a whole has been criticized for coming up with drugs that provide small incremental improvements in areas where there were already many therapies.