In an effort to accelerate disease interception approaches to the management of COPD and lung cancer, Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) has entered into a $10.1 million research agreement with Janssen Research & Development LLC, one of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies.

Together with the Janssen Disease Interception Accelerator and Oncology Therapeutic Area, scientific teams will analyze data from the Detection of Early Lung Cancer Among Military Personnel (DECAMP) consortium, a multidisciplinary translational research program, to advance the development of targeted therapeutics for the interception of COPD and lung cancer.

“Through the identification of molecular biomarkers, we see an opportunity to screen people at risk for COPD and lung cancer and predict those who may be progressing towards disease so that we can intercede and intercept disease progression,” explained Avrum Spira, MD, MS, professor of medicine, pathology and laboratory medicine at BUSM and principal investigator of the grant. “Working with samples from the DECAMP study and together with Janssen scientists, we hope to advance our ability to identify and understand molecular biomarkers that will aid in the discovery and development of more targeted therapies in the future for these devastating lung diseases.”

As part of the four-year collaboration, research teams at BUSM and Janssen will collaborate to define baseline and longitudinal disease profiles in COPD at the transcriptomic level, including extensive imaging analysis and integration of clinical data parameters, in an effort to apply targeted therapeutic intervention in COPD. The teams will also focus on characterizing the transcriptomic alterations associated with early progression of lung cancer. The Janssen-sponsored research agreement will support expansion of the consortium and pursuit of additional molecular biomarkers that will enable development of disease interception approaches focused on COPD and lung cancer.

In addition to the BUSM partnership, Janssen also announced it would collaborate with the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) in Singapore on the identification of biomarkers in Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM).

“We are excited about the tremendous progress in implementing our venture strategies during our first year of operation, focusing on disease areas with high unmet need and unique interception opportunities,” said Ben Wiegand, PhD, Head, DIA, Janssen Research & Development LLC.  “Partnerships, like those we have forged with Boston University School of Medicine and A*STAR today, provide critical access to expertise at leading global scientific centers, and advance our research to realize disease interception as a viable strategy to achieving better health for future generations.”

In addition to GDM and COPD, the DIA has established ventures in Type 1 Diabetes, Presbyopia/Cataracts, Oral Cavity & Oropharyngeal Cancer/Cervical Cancer and Perinatal Depression.  Each venture has been selected based upon high unmet need, deep Janssen expertise and understanding of emerging science, and the potential for broader cross-disease applications for scientific learnings.  The DIA is harnessing cutting-edge science and technology, both internally and externally, through partnerships and ongoing exploration of new collaborations with Johnson & Johnson Innovation.