AstraZeneca’s kidney blitz

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AstraZeneca (Cambridge, UK) is emphasizing its dedication to chronic kidney disease (CKD) and related conditions. In a sign of its focus on the “R” in its renamed division, Cardiovascular, Renal, and Metabolism (CVRM), the company offered research and information in 35 separate scientific articles and data presentations during Kidney Week 2018.

Formerly known as CVMD (cardiovascular, renal, and metabolic diseases), the division was renamed in early 2018. Renal work has become an urgent area of concern, said Elisabeth Bjork, vice president of CVRM for Global Medicines Development. “Deaths due to CKD specifically more than doubled between 1990 and 2013,” she said. “Renal patients are at risk for life-threatening complications, with even small decreases in renal function leading to an increased risk of death and CV-related complications once moderate renal dysfunction has been reached (eGFR <60 mL per minute per 1.73 m2).”

The data presented at ASN Kidney Week “demonstrate our ambition to advance treatment for patients with chronic kidney disease and its associated complications,” said Danilo Verge, vice president of CVRM for Global Medical Affairs. “We are exploring solutions to help address unmet medical needs, including disease modification during early-stage diagnosis to managing potentially life-threatening complications as patients progress to dialysis and end-stage renal disease.”

These are among the company’s areas of interest:

  • • Lokelma (sodium zirconium cyclosilicate) for hyperkalemia,

  • • Anemia in CKD,

  • • Farxiga (dapagliflozin) effects, and

  • • Early science (collaboration with Ionis Pharmaceuticals) on antisense oligonucleotides as a potential modality for new targets in CKD and identifying kidney cell subpopulations.

AstraZeneca states its goal as understanding “more clearly the underlying links between the heart, kidneys and pancreas….Our ambition is to modify or halt the natural course of CVRM diseases and potentially regenerate organs and restore function.”

Zacks Analyst business blog recently noted that “AstraZeneca’s shares have gained +8% in the year to date, outperforming the Zacks Large Cap Pharmaceuticals industry which has gained +3.2% over the same period.” The site highlighted that several launches are under way across CVRM, oncology, and respiratory. The company’s diabetes franchise faces “stiff competition,” which in part may explain its foray into other areas.