MDA Symposium Looks at Partnerships Between Industry and Academia

At an MDA-sponsored symposium, stakeholders interested in drug development for rare diseases met to discuss moving experimental therapies from lab to clinic

Getting industry and academia "on the same page" was a goal of the MDA Translational Research Symposium.
Article Highlights:
  • Some 150 people attended the MDA-supported Translational Research Symposium, held in New Orleans in June in conjunction with the 2012 New Directions in Biology and Disease of Skeletal Muscle Conference.
  • Large pharmaceutical companies are showing increasing interest in developing drugs for rare diseases, such as those in MDA's program.
  • Investigators conducting early-stage research and hoping to partner with pharmaceutical companies need to use state-of-the-art methodology and pay careful attention to future regulatory issues and their choice of disease models.
  • The symposium was one of four in MDA’s 2012 symposium series, which brings together top experts to examine questions and roadblocks in neuromuscular disease research.
by Margaret Wahl on June 21, 2012 - 12:57pm

Enhancing collaboration and transfer of technology between academia and industry was the subject of MDA's recent Translational Research Symposium, one of a series of four MDA-sponsored research symposia scheduled in 2012.

The symposium was held June 27 in New Orleans, in conjunction with the 2012 New Directions in Biology and Disease of Skeletal Muscle Conference.

About 150 people attended and heard speakers drawn from the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, academia, voluntary health organizations and the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Jane Larkindale, MDA's director of translational research, was among the presenters.

Attendees learned that, to enhance the chances of partnering with the pharmaceutical industry, investigators conducting early-stage research should:

  • use state-of-the-art methodology;
  • increase their attention to future regulatory issues; and
  • increase their attention to their choice of disease models (for example, mice or rats with a disease that mimics the human disease).

"Translating research from a laboratory setting to an effective therapeutic agent is a very difficult process," Larkindale said. "During this symposium, the various stakeholders in the process learned more about how the other groups operate and how to work together more efficiently. There is real interest from large companies to develop therapies for rare diseases at this time, and MDA aims to help get new ideas from our basic science program into truly translational studies."

More on translational research

To learn more about translational research and MDA's role in funding it, see the following:

MDA 2012 symposium series

In addition to the translational research symposium, MDA’s 2012 series includes three other meetings:

  • MDA-AFM Gene Therapy Symposium (May 17, 2012, Philadelphia). This meeting looked at overcoming immunologic obstacles to gene therapy for neuromuscular diseases. It was held in conjunction with the Association Française Contre les Myopathies (French Association Against Myopathies)
  • MDA Neuron Symposium (May 21-22, Tucson, Ariz.). Top experts in the field discussed the role of nervous system support cells called glia in the degeneration of motor neurons in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • MDA Muscle Symposium (Sept. 11-12, Washington, D.C.). The multiple aspects of developing newborn screening for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) will be the focus of this meeting.
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