Pfizer forms diabetes, obesity research consortium with universities

Pfizer Inc has entered into a collaboration agreement with four major research universities – University of California, Santa Barbara; Caltech; the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and the University of Massachusetts - and Entelos, a physiological modeling company, to re-examine the regulatory mechanisms of human energy metabolism.

Pfizer will fund the three-year $14-million `Insulin Resistance Pathway (IRP) Project' which will look at insulin signaling in adipose (fat) cells to increase understanding of diabetes and obesity, which currently affect seven per cent of the US population, the company said in a release.

While diabetes research has been in vogue for nearly 50 years, the diabetes and obesity medicines that have reached the market do not meet the needs of many patients. Nearly 60 per cent of patients do not respond adequately to currently available drug therapies, the release noted.

According to C. Preston Hensley, who will oversee the research for Pfizer, knowledge uncovered in the research project will be applied to develop new drugs for the treatment of diabetes.

''Scientists from Pfizer's laboratories in Groton, Connecticut, where our diabetes and obesity research is centralised, and from Pfizer Research Technology Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, will work directly with the external research teams to progress research. We are very fortunate to be working with such a prestigious team,'' said Hensley.

''What is most exciting and unique about this effort is that we are combining distinct approaches to transform our picture of what happens inside the cell in response to insulin,'' said Robert Garofalo, senior research fellow from Pfizer's cardiovascular, metabolic and endocrine diseases therapeutic area and lead Pfizer scientist on the IRP. ''Insulin actually initiates a three-dimensional network of interconnected responses. Our goal is to understand this network and how it changes in diseases like diabetes. Collaborating in this way will help us to identify better possibilities for new treatments.''