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Southampton scientists renew strategic collaboration with AstraZeneca

Updated: Jan 22, 2021

Prof Tom Wilkinson’s research group has renewed a long-standing collaboration with AstraZeneca to understand the mechanisms driving the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Building on a four year collaboration between the two organisations, this renewed agreement will provide Prof Wilkinson’s group with funding for the next phase of the collaboration between AstraZeneca and the University of Southampton, a leading centre in understanding disease mechanisms of COPD and airway infection.

Establishing a well characterised cohort of patients with COPD has allowed these scientists to investigate differences in gene expression which drive the immune response to viral infection in COPD. Some of this work has recently been published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

COPD causes more than three million deaths a year worldwide. It is a major driver to hospital admissions and unscheduled visits to Primary Care. New treatments are desperately needed to improve outcomes for patients with the condition and this project will focus on that goal.

Tom Wilkinson, Professor of Respiratory Medicine and Lead for COPD research at the University of Southampton, said: “I am really excited about continuing this important collaboration.

"This programme of research aims to provide ground-breaking insights into disease mechanisms of COPD and will help us work towards the development of a new generation of therapies which are greatly needed for our patients.”

Maria Belvisi, Senior Vice President and Head of Early Research and Development, Respiratory, Inflammation and Autoimmunity, BioPharmaceuticals R&D, AstraZeneca, commented: “Through this collaboration we will continue our multi-omics analysis of COPD patient samples, and I hope this will help us identify novel patient phenotypes and previously unknown pathways that lead to this chronic disease."

By further increasing our understanding of the underlying biological drivers of COPD, we aim to develop a new generation of medicines that could modify the disease.”

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