By GREGORY ZELLER //
Bioelectronic medicine has taken another forward leap, thanks to the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research’s latest professional alliance.
The research-and-development arm of the Northwell Health system announced Thursday that it will apply its cutting-edge bioelectronics and cell-therapy technologies to cardiology and hypertension cases through a new “strategic partnership” with United Therapeutics Corp.
Financial terms were not disclosed, but United Therapeutics will “fund Northwell’s efforts in four research-and-development tracks” while ushering new bioelectronic nerve-stimulation therapies through clinical trials and into development, according to the Feinstein Institute.
The pivot into bioelectronic medicine – a top field of study at the wide-ranging Feinstein Institute, home base of global bioelectronics pioneer Kevin Tracey – is a bit of a departure for United Therapeutics, which will also be funding and testing bioelectronic methods of promoting “tolerance induction” in certain post-transplant cases.
Although the Maryland-based biotech is in the business of developing and commercializing “innovative products to address the unmet medical needs of patients with chronic and life-threatening conditions,” according to its website, United Therapeutics is known best for its pharmaceutical products.
Offerings in the company’s existing commercial portfolio include Adcirca, a pill-form phosphodiesterase 5 inhibitor for the treatment of arterial hypertension; Remodulin, an injected prostacyclin vasodilator also used to treat arterial hypertension; and Unituxin, an injected antibody used to treat pediatric neuroblastoma.
Into that pharmaceutical mix wades the Feinstein Institute, which is actually aiming to lessen medical science’s reliance on pharmaceutical solutions by increasing the efficacy of bioelectronic nerve-stimulation therapies.
Despite what appears on the surface to be contrasting philosophies, Tracey said his Feinstein Institute research teams “could not be more pleased” to partner up with United Therapeutics’ clinicians, noting “we share their aims and values.”
“Collaboration is the indispensable factor in successful medical research,” the Feinstein Institute president and CEO said Thursday. “With great partners, you can accomplish great things for science and patients.
“United Therapeutics is such a partner.”
The strategic collaborators said they’re shooting for “initial regulatory approvals” within five years – a fast track in the world of medical breakthroughs, but a realistic one, considering the progress already made by the Feinstein Institute’s Center for Bioelectronic Medicine, which has emerged as a global focusing point for the convergence of neuroscience, bioengineering and molecular and cell biology.
United Therapeutics Chairwoman and CEO Martine Rothblatt also predicted a smooth alliance with rapid results, noting her company was “truly honored to work with the pioneers of these next-generation medical technologies.”
“We expect a great fit with our clinical development pipeline in heart failure, pulmonary disease and transplantation,” Rothblatt said in a statement.
The United Therapeutics deal is the latest in a long line of professional partnerships centered on the Feinstein Institute’s bioelectronics and nerve-stimulation research. Feinstein scientists have long collaborated with peers at the Karolinska Institutet, Sweden’s top medical university, and the Ohio-based applied-science nonprofit mecca Battelle Memorial Institute on electronic nerve-stimulation studies.
And in February, Northwell Health announced a “strategic alliance” pairing the Feinstein Institute’s bioelectronics pioneers with GE Ventures, the multinational conglomerate’s New Jersey-based business-licensing and equity arm.