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Collaboration to Research Obesity Biomarkers, Drug Targets

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Florida Hospital in Orlando, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute also in Orlando, and Takeda Pharmaceutical Company in Osaka, Japan, will collaborate on developing new therapies for obesity, a growing worldwide health problem. The partnership aims to to identify and validate new obesity-related biomarkers and molecular targets.

The project is the first corporate-sponsored research undertaken by the Translational Research Institute for Metabolism and Diabetes (TRI), a partnership of Florida Hospital and Sanford-Burnham. The two-year agreement includes research funding from Takeda divided between Florida Hospital-TRI and Sanford-Burnham.

The planned work design combines lab research with clinical investigations of patients that can help scientists compare data from experimental models and humans to identify genetic and metabolomic matches. The partners expect to use technologies such as genomic and metabolite profiling to pinpoint metabolic signatures, genes, and pathways that could serve as biomarkers. They also anticipate identifying drug targets to help develop more personalized treatments for obesity and its complications.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, over one-third of Americans are overweight and another one-third is obese. Obesity leads to numerous serious illnesses, including type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, gallstones, fatty liver disease, sleep apnea, heart failure, birth defects, miscarriages, asthma, and some forms of cancer.  Obesity causes at least 112,000 excess deaths in the U.S. each year and reduces lifespan by up to eight years.  Medical-related expenses attributable to obesity are projected to top $344 billion by 2018.

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