Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Therapeutics Announces $15 Million Research Project with Shire for Development of Novel CF Treatment
Dec. 10, 2014 | 3 min read

(Bethesda, MD) -- Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Therapeutics Inc., the nonprofit drug discovery and development affiliate of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, announced today a $15 million research agreement with Shire plc to support the development of a new cystic fibrosis treatment targeting the underlying cause of the disease.

The multiyear research program will evaluate a novel approach to improve the function of the defective protein associated with cystic fibrosis, called CFTR. The program is investigating a potential therapy that would be delivered to the lungs in an aerosolized form, with the goal of boosting lung function and decreasing the number and severity of lung infections in people with the disease.

In people with cystic fibrosis, mutations in the CF gene prevent the production of normal CFTR protein, causing a cascade of debilitating and life-threatening symptoms. Shire is working to develop a unique technology to deliver normal messenger RNA for CFTR directly to the lungs, where it can be used by the body's cellular mechanisms to produce working copies of the protein. Messenger RNA is a conveyor of genetic code critical to proper function of the body's proteins.

If successful, the potential messenger RNA therapy could benefit all people with cystic fibrosis, regardless of an individual's mutations. 

“The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is pursuing many exciting research avenues to speed the development of new treatments for all people with cystic fibrosis,” said Robert J. Beall, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. “Shire brings a promising new approach and significant research capabilities to our efforts to find a cure for this devastating disease.”

The first phase of Shire's CF research program is focused on evaluating the safety and dosing of the potential therapy in the laboratory. With operational headquarters in Lexington, Mass., Shire develops and markets specialty medicines in the fields of rare diseases, neuroscience, gastrointestinal, and internal medicine.

“As a company focused on the development of innovative medicines to treat rare diseases and other specialty conditions, Shire is pleased to enter into this research collaboration with the CF Foundation, which joins together leaders in industry and patient advocacy to advance pioneering research for the benefit of people with CF,” said Philip J. Vickers, Ph.D., global head of research and development at Shire.

The CF Foundation has built a robust pipeline of potential therapies that target cystic fibrosis from every angle. Currently, the CF Foundation has research initiatives with leading biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer, Genzyme and Vertex to discover and develop drugs to treat the basic genetic defect in CF. 

About the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation 

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is the world's leader in the search for a cure for cystic fibrosis. The CF Foundation funds more cystic fibrosis research than any other organization, and nearly every CF drug available today was made possible because of CF Foundation support. Based in Bethesda, Md., the CF Foundation also supports and accredits a national care center network that has been recognized by the National Institutes of Health as a model of care for a chronic disease. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is a donor-supported nonprofit organization. 

Media Contact

Laurie Fink, national director of media relations:

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