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Anika Therapeutics Partners with Institute for Applied Life Sciences

BEDFORD — Anika Therapeutics Inc. a leader in products for tissue protection, healing, and repair based on hyaluronic-acid technology, announced an agreement with the Institute for Applied Life Sciences at UMass Amherst to collaborate on research to develop a therapy for rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder which manifests itself in multiple joints of the body. The inflammatory process primarily affects the lining of the joints (synovial membrane), but can also affect other organs. The inflamed synovium leads to erosion of cartilage and bone, which can lead to joint deformity. RA imposes enormous physical and economic burdens on affected individuals, as well as society at large. As the population in the U.S. continues to age, the Centers for Disease Control estimates that 67 million individuals will be diagnosed with RA by the year 2030.

The purpose of this research collaboration is to develop a novel modality for the treatment of RA. If successful, it is expected to yield a candidate that will move toward clinical development in 2017.

“We are very excited to partner with a world-renowned research institution and the many outstanding scientists at UMass Amherst to develop a localized delivery treatment for rheumatoid arthritis that addresses a large, unmet need,” said Dr. Charles Sherwood, president and CEO of Anika Therapeutics. “With this partnership, we plan to further advance Anika’s mission to deliver innovative therapies that address the full continuum of patient care, with a focus in the area of orthopedics.”

Added Dr. Peter Reinhart, director of the Institute for Applied Life Sciences at UMass Amherst, “we are extremely enthusiastic to have our research teams partnering with Anika as we aim to address treatments for RA. This is exactly the type of win-win collaboration IALS is seeking to develop in its quest to rapidly commercialize UMass life-science discoveries into products that improve human health.”

Mike Malone, vice chancellor for Research and Engagement at UMass Amherst, noted that “this partnership combines Professor Sankaran Thayumanavan’s [Chemistry] expertise in nanotechnology with Professor Lisa Minter’s [Veterinary & Animal Sciences] mechanistic understanding of aberrant immune responses and with Anika’s proven knowledge of hyaluronic-acid chemistry and its clinical application to treat joint pain. Developing university-industry alliances is one of the key strategic elements of this translational institute that advances the broad life-science research mission on this campus. In this alliance with Anika, we are committed to bringing novel therapeutic solutions to patients.”

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