A promising drug therapy for the treatment of sleep apnea, a serious and common sleep-related breathing disorder has been licensed by the University of Illinois at Chicago, where it was first conceptualized, to an intellectual property and technology commercialization company for clinical development.
UIC signed a licensing and research agreement to further develop a novel pharmacological therapy for sleep apnea with BTG, of Conshohocken, Pa.
The basis for the therapy was uncovered by two noted UIC sleep researchers, Drs. David Carley and Miodrag Radulovacki, who demonstrated in preclinical and clinical studies that turning up or down the signaling pathways of certain neurotransmitters can significantly reduce the incidence of sleep apnea.
"This has real clinical significance," said Carley, who is professor of medicine, pharmacology and bioengineering and director of research at the UIC Center for Sleep and Ventilatory Disorders. "Although sleep apnea is as common as asthma or diabetes, there is currently no cure and no fully effective long-term treatment."
Sleep apnea is a serious respiratory disorder that involves cessation of breathing for prolonged intervals during sleep. It is estimated that 15-20 million people in the United States suffer from apnea, which has been linked to increased risk for hypertension, heart failure, depression and diabetes.
Currently, no drugs are approved to treat sleep apnea. The novel therapy being developed by BTG and UIC comprises a combination of two drugs that are currently approved and in use to treat conditions unrelated to sleep apnea.
"We believe that safe and effective drug treatments are achievable for sleep apnea, and are delighted to have BTG as a strategic partner in this development program," said Radulovacki, who is professor of pharmacology and medicine.
Under the terms of the agreement, UIC grants BTG specific exclusive rights to intellectual property and inventions related to the development of therapeutic treatment of sleep apnea, as well as rights to new intellectual property developed through a BTG funded research program. The agreement also includes a revenue share arrangement between the parties upon successful product commercialization.
"BTG is very proud to be working with UIC and investigators of Drs. Carley and Radulovacki's stature," said Thomas Logan, vice president of BTG's BioPharmaceuticals business unit. "Based on their groundbreaking laboratory and clinical research we are optimistic that a pharmacological therapeutic option to treat sleep apnea is achievable.
"This investment project is a continuation of a very productive relationship between our institutions and is a lead program in BTG's portfolio of clinical development programs that involve new uses for existing drugs and drug combinations," Logan said.
UIC ranks among the nation's top 50 universities in federal research funding and is Chicago's largest university with 25,000 students, 12,000 faculty and staff, 15 colleges and the state's major public medical center. A hallmark of the campus is the Great Cities Commitment, through which UIC faculty, students and staff engage with community, corporate, foundation and government partners in hundreds of programs to improve the quality of life in metropolitan areas around the world.
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