Galapagos has discovered drug targets (starting points for the development of novel drugs) using cells from patients for more than fifteen diseases. These targets form the basis of drug discovery programs aimed at identifying small molecules or antibodies that alter the activity of these proteins, thereby potentially changing the course of the disease. By studying the disease process and key points of intervention, it is our goal to develop new drugs that stop the disease rather than just treat the symptoms.
Recently, Galapagos made the strategic decision to pursue drug discovery and development in orphan diseases – diseases of high medical need, not commonly pursued by pharmaceutical companies. Cystic fibrosis (CF) is the first orphan disease in which Galapagos plans to discover, develop and launch disease-modifying medicines. This decision is based on Galapagos’ successful collaboration with the CF Foundation, where Galapagos identified the first ever disease-modifying targets for CF. With this strategy, Galapagos expects to benefit from the accelerated approval procedures and exclusive commercial rights granted to developers of orphan drugs through US and European regulatory agencies, to ultimately provide real medical benefit to this sizeable population of patients.
In November 2008, Galapagos and MorphoSys initiated an alliance to co-develop novel therapeutic antibodies in bone & joint disease. The partners combine their proprietary drug targets and unique technologies to discover and develop antibody therapies based on novel modes of action in bone & joint disease, including rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. Both companies will share the research and development costs, as well as all future revenues equally.
Antibodies with high specificity towards the first target have been generated and are now being tested in disease-specific experiments. In parallel, Galapagos has applied its target discovery platform to identify additional targets for antibody development. The partners have since added another additional antibody targets to the alliance, thereby increasing the total number of programs to five.