Industry-Sponsored Research Week
University-Industry Engagement Advisor

Johns Hopkins and Bayer extend research deal for eye disease research through 2024


By David Schwartz
Published: May 11th, 2021

Johns Hopkins University and Bayer AG have extended their strategic research alliance in ophthalmology through the end of 2024, providing a continuing multimillion dollar funding stream. The agreement will allow researchers at the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute to stay the course in pursuing treatments for a variety of eye diseases and ailments, while gaining insights from Bayer scientists about new drug candidates.

Already, a drug candidate from one of the collaboration’s programs has advanced to a phase II clinical trial and another has been licensed to a start-up company.

Though the extension was signed last year, it is being made public for the first time in conjunction with this week’s virtual Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology annual meeting, where some of the research from the collaboration will be presented.

“I think the ultimate goal of any scientist is to have his or her work translate into something that improves lives and reduces suffering, such as from vision loss,” says Peter J. McDonnell, MD, Wilmer Eye Institute’s director. “This collaboration between Wilmer and Bayer scientists has led to a stronger understanding of the retina in health and disease and is advancing the promise of better treatments for eye disease.”

Among the areas researchers hope to impact are diabetic retinopathy, dry eye disease and age-related macular degeneration. The collaboration extension means more opportunities to advance potential treatments toward clinical trials.

“This extension enables our clinicians and scientists to work hand-in-hand with Bayer researchers to advance existing work and potentially identify more promising drug candidates for ophthalmic indications,” says Janice Lin, who manages the collaboration for Johns Hopkins and serves as an assistant director of corporate partnerships at JHTV.

The close cooperation between the partners is illustrated by their joint review committee, operating in addition to the more typical joint steering committee, which advises project leads on the science involved in the sponsored research.

“Sponsored research is often a company asking to run a clinical trial on a drug, a contractual arrangement,” says Laura Ensign, PhD, professor of ophthalmology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a member of the joint review committee. “This is more of a true collaboration, with data being generated on both sides.”

“Bayer recognizes from the research perspective that if they keep an open mind and listen to other perspectives, it’s likely going to help all sides in the end,” adds Neil M. Bressler, MD, the professor of ophthalmology who serves on the joint review committee and chairs the steering committee for the phase II clinical trial.

Bayer also is a sponsor of FastForward, JHTV’s start-up accelerator, and it supports a student fellow in the Commercialization Academy, JHTV’s student internship program. The fellow is helping to identify more translational opportunities between Johns Hopkins and Bayer.

“This is the best of all worlds when you think about how industry and academia can work together,” says Ensign. “It’s really full investment on both sides and a collective effort. Everyone involved is putting their minds toward the science, and the good outcomes are being shared by everyone.”

Source: Johns Hopkins

Posted under: University-Industry Engagement Week

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