Centene Corp. and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis announced Monday, April 8, a partnership to transform and accelerate research into treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, breast cancer, diabetes and obesity. All are common, debilitating and often deadly diseases that affect millions of people worldwide, at all levels of income.
As part of the partnership, Centene will fund up to $100 million over 10 years in research at Washington University. The funding will galvanize the School of Medicine’s Personalized Medicine Initiative, which aims to develop customized disease treatment and prevention for patients. Innovations that arise from the initiative will be commercialized through the ARCH Personalized Medicine Initiative, a joint venture between the School of Medicine and Centene. Reflecting the philosophy of both institutions, ARCH is designed to accelerate the development and implementation of affordable and accessible health solutions to the public, using the intellectual property developed from this research.
“We share the goal of helping to improve the health of our communities through research, education and customized treatment for people suffering from chronic illnesses,” said Michael F. Neidorff, chairman and CEO for Centene. “We believe personalized medicine is the path to ensure patients get the targeted health care they need to fight disease, and we look forward to partnering with such a renowned medical school to initially focus on four diseases that impact millions of Americans, including many of our health plan members.”
The investment will leverage the university’s cutting-edge research and biomedical capabilities, including state-of-the-art technologies such as CRISPR, and internationally known scientists in the areas of the microbiome, immunomodulatory therapies, cancer genomics, neurodegeneration, cellular reprogramming, chemical biology, informatics and others. In addition, the funds will strengthen resources at more than a dozen centers and institutes at the School of Medicine, including the Edison Family Center for Genome Sciences & Systems Biology; the Andrew M. and Jane M. Bursky Center for Human Immunology and Immunotherapy Programs; Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine; the Elizabeth H. and James S. McDonnell III Genome Institute; the Institute for Informatics; and the Center of Regenerative Medicine.
“We will be bringing together world-class resources and intellectual horsepower from every basic and clinical scientific discipline to urgently accelerate the timeline for developing therapies that are more precisely targeted, with aspirations to do so within the next five to seven years,” said David H. Perlmutter, MD, executive vice chancellor for medical affairs, the George and Carol Bauer Dean, and the Spencer T. and Ann. W. Olin Distinguished Professor at the School of Medicine. “I believe the most important advances that will evolve from the personalized medicine paradigm will come from harnessing genome engineering technologies to build better model systems of each human disease, and utilizing deep genomic and clinical characterization to enable more effective and less expensive clinical trials.”
Perlmutter continued, “The partnership supports our global leadership in understanding sequence variants in biological systems that will pave the way for new therapeutic targets, as well as learning more about our own innate biology,” he said. “Once personalized medicine becomes common practice, health-care workers may examine each patient’s genome — as well as information regarding his or her environment, lifestyle and social network — to identify a customized, affordable approach to optimizing health and medical care.”
Centene and Washington University will host a press briefing at a later date to be determined. For Centene’s news release and more information about the company, follow this link.