Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN) and UCB (Euronext Brussels: UCB) are collaborating with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Ames Research Center to conduct a preclinical test of a sclerostin antibody in an experiment that will take place aboard space shuttle Atlantis, on the final NASA shuttle mission, Space Shuttle Flight STS-135, scheduled to launch July 8, 2011.
The loss of bone mass during space flight remains a significant problem for human space missions, especially long-term flights. This experiment will assess the effect of a sclerostin antibody on the loss of bone associated with space flight in mice. In this experiment of 30 space-flown mice, half of the mice are given the sclerostin antibody and the remaining mice receive a placebo. After the flight, various aspects of the structure, composition, strength, and cell and molecular nature of the bones from the flight and ground-based control mice will be analyzed.
The sclerostin antibody is designed to inhibit the action of “sclerostin,” a protein that is a key negative regulator of bone formation, bone mass, and bone strength. The findings may also provide insight into potential further research in the prevention and treatment of the skeletal fragility that can result from “skeletal disuse” in such conditions as immobilization, stroke, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, spinal cord injury, and reduced physical activity.
“It is an honor to work with NASA on this historic final mission,” said Chris Paszty, Ph.D., scientific executive director at Amgen. “This proof of principle study will enhance our understanding of the science behind the sclerostin antibody and arm us with important research to support potential future therapeutic applications in both astronauts and patients suffering from bone loss.”
“We are very excited to be working on this momentous experiment. It will help us to better understand the sclerostin antibody,” said Prof. Iris Loew-Friedrich, chief medical officer and executive vice president of Global Projects and Development at UCB. “The origin of UCB’s sclerostin program was the discovery of the genetic cause of a rare inherited high bone mass condition. This fascinating approach of turning genetic discovery into novel and innovative drug development seems fitting to the collaboration with NASA whose mission is exploration and discovery.”
AMG 785/CDP7851, a different sclerostin antibody than the one being used for this STS-135 mouse study, is currently in Phase 2 clinical trials for bone-related conditions, including postmenopausal osteoporosis and fracture healing, as a collaboration between Amgen Inc. and UCB.
Amgen discovers, develops, manufactures, and delivers innovative human therapeutics. A biotechnology pioneer since 1980, Amgen was one of the first companies to realize the new science’s promise by bringing safe, effective medicines from lab to manufacturing plant to patient. Amgen therapeutics have changed the practice of medicine, helping millions of people around the world in the fight against cancer, kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, bone disease, and other serious illnesses. With a deep and broad pipeline of potential new medicines, Amgen remains committed to advancing science to dramatically improve people’s lives.
UCB, Brussels, Belgium is a global biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of innovative medicines and solutions to transform the lives of people living with severe diseases of the immune system or of the central nervous system. With more than 8,000 people in about 40 countries, the company generated revenue of EUR 3.2 billion in 2010. UCB is listed on Euronext Brussels (symbol: UCB).