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FibroKine, Potential PF Treatment Strategy, Gets $250,000 CSL Behring Research Grant

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Delaware received funding for their research into innovative therapies for specific disease areas, including pulmonary fibrosis (PF).

CSL Behring and the University City Science Center awarded $250,000 each to Cecelia Yates, PhD, from the University of Pittsburgh, and Eleftherios Papoutsakis, PhD, from the University of Delaware.

Yates’ project focuses on FibroKine biomimetic peptides (BPs) that target the underlying causes of fibrosis. BPs are peptides designed and developed in the lab to imitate the action of proteins. In the case of Fibrokine, BPs imitate the CXCL10 protein, which has anti-fibrotic properties. The project was previously awarded a research grant by the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Medical Innovation.

Recent research supports FibroKine peptides as a new, targeted therapeutic strategy able to halt, reverse, and treat fibrotic diseases, specifically by targeting pro-fibrotic molecules and disrupting multiple disease-causing mechanisms. Fibrotic diseases include pulmonary fibrosis, cardiac fibrosis, scleroderma, and liver cirrhosis.

The grant will help Yates’s team test FibroKine’s efficacy in treating and stopping the progression of pulmonary fibrosis.

Papoutsakis’s team’s research project will focus on the use of cell derived microparticles and vesicles for the treatment of genetic hematological diseases and in gene therapy applications.

The CSL Behring–Science Center Research Initiative was launched in October 2018, with the goal of identifying promising therapies and supporting their development into commercialization, within CSL Behring’s five therapeutic areas of expertise: immunology and neurology; hematology and thrombosis; respiratory; cardiovascular and metabolic; and transplant.

“Congratulations, Drs. Yates and Papoutsakis, on being the first recipients of the CSL Behring-Science Center Research Acceleration Initiative,” Bill Mezzanotte, MD, head of research and development at CSL Behring, said in a press release.

“This initiative is another example of the strength of our partnership with the Philadelphia-based University City Science Center as we look in our ‘backyard’ for innovative scientific advancements that have the potential to help rare disease patients lead full lives,” Mezzanotte said. “Our growing R&D organization looks forward to working with Dr. Yates and Dr. Papoutsakis in the years ahead to advance their scientific research.”

“The Science Center couldn’t be more excited about facilitating the introduction between these talented investigators and CSL Behring,” John Younger, MD, vice president of science and technology at the center, said. “Our network of universities, biotech, and pharmaceutical companies was built exactly for making these connections not just possible but easy. Supporting the development of new biologics, and new drug and gene delivery systems like those developed by Drs. Papoutsakis and Yates will continue to be an important focus of our team.”

The initiative is accepting applications from researchers at 28 institutions across six states. 2020 grants will be given to a maximum of three proposals, up to $400,000 each. Application deadline is April 13.

Margarida Azevedo,


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