AstraZeneca and Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corp are linking up to find treatments for diabetic nephropathy.

The companies have signed an early-stage three-year research collaboration to develop small molecule candidates from their respective portfolios that have been identified as treatments for the disease which involves kidney failure due to diabetes. Diabetic nephropathy occurs in as many as 50% of patients who have diabetes for 20 years or more.

The research will be performed at MTPC’s facilities in Japan and at AstraZeneca’s cardiovascular and metabolic disease innovative medicines unit in Molndal, Sweden. There is no financial commitment for the research involved and each firm will contribute equal resources at their own cost.

Marcus Schindler, head of the CVMD iMed, said diabetes is a key growth platform for AstraZeneca, noting that “with current approaches to diabetic nephropathy resulting in patients needing expensive and limited treatment options, such as dialysis or kidney transplantation, there’s a significant unmet clinical need”.

He added that the MTPC pact “will allow us to focus on early-stage programmes and generate decision-making data faster than working alone”.