Category: Corporate Collaborations

Corporate Collaborations

Johns Hopkins-IP Group Collaboration Funds Cancer Therapeutic Startup, Paves…

Johns Hopkins-IP Group Collaboration Funds Cancer Therapeutic Startup, Paves Way for Further IP Commercialization

Barbara Slusher, Ph.D., M.A.S., professor of neurology, psychiatry, neuroscience, medicine and oncology

The Johns Hopkins University announces that IP Group has funded the creation of Lorem Therapeutics as part of an ongoing collaboration between the university and the intellectual property commercialization company to explore, identify and commercialize technologies. Lorem will be focused on developing early-stage therapeutics, bridging the gap from drug discovery to investigative new drug (IND) status, specifically novel small molecule prodrugs for cancer indications.

“The relationship Johns Hopkins has forged with IP Group aims to facilitate one of our institution’s long-standing missions—to bring the benefits of discovery to the world,” says Christy Wyskiel, senior adviser to the president for enterprise development and the head of Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures, the university’s intellectual property administration center. “The support provided to early stage technologies through this model of venture creation has the potential to accelerate the transformation of promising research into impactful products and services.”

Lorem is led by Barbara Slusher, Ph.D., M.A.S., professor of neurology, psychiatry, neuroscience, medicine and oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, who has an extensive track record of bringing lead compounds from drug discovery through clinical development. Slusher directs Johns Hopkins Drug Discovery, the largest integrated drug discovery program at the university, with a veteran team of medicinal chemists, assay developers, pharmacologists, toxicologists and pharmacokinetic and drug metabolism experts. The team is engaged in identifying novel drug targets arising from the university’s research efforts and translating them into new drug therapies for clinical development.

“We are excited to announce the first investment from our collaboration with Johns Hopkins University,” says Michael Burychka, chief executive officer, IP Group North America. “IP Group is committed to supporting scientific discovery and is thrilled to work with Dr. Slusher. We look forward to building upon our relationship with Johns Hopkins and continuing to invest in novel science being developed at the university.”

Accompanying the initial funding, Lorem Therapeutics will receive support from FastForward, a coordinated suite of resources managed by Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures that provides more than 100 startups with access to affordable space, services and funding opportunities.

“I am delighted to have the support of IP Group, Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures and FastForward as we launch this exciting venture,” Slusher says. “IP Group’s commercial expertise and initial funding as well as FastForward’s ongoing support will play a critical role in helping us accelerate and enhance our drug discovery efforts around critical cancer indications.”


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Corporate Collaborations

Mitsubishi Tanabe, Hopkins Scientists Shedding Light on Psychotic Disorders

Mitsubishi Tanabe, Hopkins Scientists Shedding Light on Psychotic Disorders


Since 2012, Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation and Johns Hopkins have collaborated to identify early-stage biomarkers for psychotic disorders in young adults. The results of this five-year collaboration may help doctors more accurately diagnose and identify the best course of treatment for those suffering from psychosis, such as those with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other psychotic disorders.

The relationship between Mitsubishi and Johns Hopkins stems from the unique challenges inherent to this area of drug development. Effective treatments have proven elusive because psychotic disorders are biologically heterogeneous, meaning several factors can be attributed to their development.

“The gap between reliability and validity in diagnosis has long confused pharmaceutical companies,” says Dr. Akira Sawa, director of the Johns Hopkins Schizophrenia Center and professor of psychiatry, mental health, neuroscience and biomedical engineering in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Bloomberg School of Public Health. “They try to make the drug for schizophrenia, but the nosological concept of schizophrenia is not supported just by biology.”

Sawa has led a research coalition of several departments from across the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and will soon present to Mitsubishi Tanabe the five most promising molecular candidates for their drug screening targets. While the results could mean better care for those suffering psychotic disorders, a particularly unique component to this collaboration could facilitate future industry-academic relationships.

Dr. Akira Sawa
In addition to working with Johns Hopkins colleagues as part of his departmental coalitions that include scientists and clinicians from psychiatry, neurology, radiology, neuroscience, biomedical engineering, dermatology, otorhinolaryngology and pediatrics, Sawa has trained two data scientists and four wet bench scientists from Mitsubishi Tanabe as postdoctoral fellows.

The six scientists have come on a rolling basis with a maximum of three at any given time. Sawa says their experience and training resembles that of other Johns Hopkins postdoctoral fellows.

“The scientists from Mitsubishi Tanabe have received a lot of exposure by coming to Johns Hopkins because we provide them the opportunity to have a multi-departmental experience,” Sawa says.

Data scientist Nori Ogaru was the last Mitsubishi Tanabe scientist working with Johns Hopkins as part of this collaboration, and he recently returned home to Yokohama, Japan. For nearly two years, Ogaru collected and analyzed imaging, molecular, neuropsychology and smell test data sets, giving him an opportunity he had never had while working at Mitsubishi Tanabe.

“Until coming to Johns Hopkins, I had never touched human clinical data,” Ogaru says. “I hope that this will lead to the development of a new drug. Mitsubishi Tanabe is excited about the results.”

Working closely together enables academia to have a greater understanding of the focus and style of industry and vice versa, says Yukiko Lema, a clinical research program manager in the Johns Hopkins Schizophrenia Center.

“Sometimes there is a gap between entities,” Lema says, noting that academia focuses more on patient care and publishing while industry focuses on its business portfolio. “It’s the same research, but the focus is different. This collaboration has showed us what industry partners look for.”

At the same time, the opportunity to work with human clinical data has given Ogaru a better perspective on how his work can impact human lives.

“I worked in early-stage drug discovery, far from the side of medical care,” Ogaru says. “I had never felt the urgent need of the drug before. Now, I’m more encouraged. I would like to develop a new drug and give back to the patient. That will be my contribution to medical care.”

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