Amgen is linking hands with Massachusetts General Hospital and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in a pact that aims to develop new therapies for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

The collaboration will bring together scientists with expertise in clinical medicine, IBD biology, human genetics, genomic technology and drug discovery in a united effort to discover and validate new therapeutic targets and develop novel treatments for the disease.

IBD is an umbrella term for a group of chronic conditions such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, which can have serious complications, including a high risk of requiring surgery and an increased risk of colorectal cancer.

But despite recent progress in understanding the biology of IBD, there remains a critical need for new treatments based on newly garnered knowledge of the condition. 

"While drugs developed over the last decade have led to some marked improvements in IBD treatment, the drugs are not always effective and can cause significant side effects in some patients," says Amgen, explaining the strategy behind the move.

Financial details of the partnership are being kept under wraps, but it was noted that a joint steering committee will be formed to select and guide projects. 

Deal with Illumina

Meanwhile, Amgen has also signed a pact with Illumina to develop and commercialise a multi-gene test as a companion diagnostic for Vectibix (panitumumab), a fully human anti-EGFR monoclonal antibody therapeutic for the treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer approved in the US and EU. 

The alliance aims to validate a test platform that can identify RAS mutation status of patients who would be appropriate to receive treatment with Vectibix. 

Following approval, Illumina plans to commercialise the test with a focus on US and EU markets, it said.