December 10, 2014 / 3:15 PM / 5 years ago

Shire teams up with foundation to tackle cystic fibrosis

LONDON (Reuters) - Pharmaceutical company Shire said it would work with a specialist cystic fibrosis foundation on developing a technology to improve patients’ lung function and reduce infections.

The collaboration was announced as the group showed off its drug development pipeline, with an update on products it predicts will help to generate $3 billion of new sales by 2020.

CFFT, the non-profit drug discovery affiliate of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, will contribute up to $15 million to support Shire’s messenger RNA technology platform for cystic fibrosis, a genetic condition, Shire said on Wednesday.

Messenger RNA (mRNA) conveys coded information from a gene to the ribosome molecule in cells which then translates the information into protein. The underlying cause of many diseases is a lack of sufficient levels of functional protein.

Shire is investigating in therapies that could deliver mRNA direct to sites in the body, such as the lungs in the case of cystic fibrosis, where it can be used by the body’s own cellular mechanism to produce normal working copies of the protein.

Shire also said U.S. drugs regulator the FDA had fast-tracked the development of its SHP607 protein replacement therapy that prevents a potentially blinding retinopathy affecting babies born prematurely.

Shire set its goal of increasing revenue to $10 billion by 2020, made up of $7 billion of existing drugs and $3 million from new ones, in its defence against a takeover by AbbVie inc, a deal that was eventually derailed by changes in U.S. tax legislation.

Chief Executive Flemming Ornskov told analysts and investors on Wednesday that the group had a “laser focus” on rare diseases and speciality disorders that would help it to meet its “tough” growth target.

Reporting by Paul Sandle; editing by Keith Weir

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