AstraZeneca and Shenzhen University Health Science Center to collaborate on chronic kidney disease

Thursday, 27 March 2014

SHANGHAI, CHINA –AstraZeneca today announced a research collaboration with Shenzhen University Health Science Center. Under the agreement, the partners will undertake pre-clinical research focused on chronic kidney disease (CKD), which represents a large and growing unmet medical need in China. In 2010, there were over 112 million kidney disease sufferers in China and this is expected to rise by 20% to more than 135 million by 2025.¹

Under the terms of the agreement, scientists from Shenzhen University Health Science Center’s Nephrology and Urology Center will work in collaboration with teams from AstraZeneca’s Innovation Center China in Shanghai, bringing together complementary skills that will harness and foster medical innovation: Shenzhen University’s academic and clinical capabilities and AstraZeneca’s heritage in global research and drug discovery. Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.

As a priority, the partners will focus on diabetic nephropathy, damage to the kidneys caused by diabetes, which, in severe cases, can lead to kidney failure. While not all diabetes patients have kidney damage, it is growing at exponential rates in China. Between 2010 and 2025, the number of patients who experience kidney failure as a result of diabetic complications is expected to increase nearly 80% in China, to over 18 million patients.² China has overtaken the US in the prevalence of diabetes, with nearly 114 million Chinese people, or 11.5% of all adults, living with the disease in 2010.ᶟ

“This collaboration signifies an expansion into an important new disease area for AstraZeneca’s drug discovery efforts here in China,” said Steve Yang, vice president and head of the company’s Asia and Emerging Markets Innovative Medicines Unit. “Last year, we delivered the first AstraZeneca pre-clinical candidate drug to be discovered by our scientists in China, in the area of oncology. And now, in addition to our ongoing research efforts in oncology, we are also putting our talented scientists to work in chronic kidney disease – another area of unmet medical need. This demonstrates our commitment to R&D in China through both internal capability building and external partnerships.”

He added that this partnership builds on AstraZeneca’s strategic collaboration with Fibrogen announced in July last year to develop and commercialise FG-4592, a first-in-class oral compound in late stage development for the treatment of with CKD and end-stage renal disease (ESRD) in key markets around the world, including China.

Director of Shenzhen University Health Science Center and one of China’s foremost kidney disease experts, Professor Youfei Guan, said, “Chronic kidney disease is growing rapidly in China and caring for advanced chronic kidney disease is extremely costly. Together with AstraZeneca’s world-class scientists, we hope to understand the mechanisms of the disease better and ultimately develop novel medicines to benefit patients – not only in China but worldwide.”

“I look forward to the opportunity of joining our partner in looking at exciting new science that will benefit patients, commented Xiaolin Zhang, head of AstraZeneca’s Innovation Center China. “We also see this programme not just as an opportunity to help us discover new treatments but also a unique possibility for joint talent development.” He added that the partners are also evaluating the establishment of a joint post doctorate programme, which would pave the way for further enhancing scientific leadership and strengthen scientific interactions between the industry and academia.


About Diabetic Nephropathy and Chronic Kidney Disease

Diabetic Nephropathy is a complication that occurs after many years of diabetes. The disease has a multi-factorial as well as progressive nature, which stretches over many years leading to Chronic Kidney Disease and ultimately to end stage renal disease (ESRD). At this advanced and very serious stage, the kidneys are no longer able to work at a level needed for day-to-day life. Current treatment approaches may slow down, but will not arrest the progression towards ESRD, eventually requiring dialysis and kidney transplantation. Both of these approaches are linked to high costs and increased risk of cardiovascular morbidity. Chronic kidney disease is an important cause of death and loss of disability-adjusted life-years worldwide, but awareness is low among patients and healthcare providers. The number of patients is expected to grow at the fastest rate in the poorest part of the world. Care for advanced chronic kidney disease is associated with catastrophic health expenditure in developing countries.⁴Diabetes is a common cause of kidney failure and a growing problem worldwide, with 347 million people currently suffering from the disease.⁵

About Shenzhen University Health Science Center

Shenzhen University (SZU) was founded in 1983. Parallel to Shenzhen’s rapid economic development into China’s most successful Special Economic Zone and innovation hub, Shenzhen University has also undergone rapid growth and expansion in the past three decades. The university currently has about 34,000 fulltime students, including 28,000 undergraduates, over 5,500 postgraduates and about 1,000 international students. SZU is recognized as a multi-discipline university both domestically and abroad and strives to be a leading innovative university with a strong international presence. Shenzhen University established a Nephrology and Urology Centerin January 2014, in order to bring together experts and resources in Shenzhen University Health Science Center and focus on these two important disease areas.

About AstraZeneca in China

AstraZeneca entered China in 1993 and remains committed to meeting the healthcare needs of Chinese patients. Our headquarters are in Shanghai and we have more than 8,000 employees throughout the country, including manufacturing facilities in Wuxi and Taizhou and a state-of the-art research facility in Shanghai. Our scientists are committed to discovering and developing candidate drugs to meet the unique needs of patients in Asia, with a strong focus in oncology. In addition, our translational science team aims to understand how diseases impact the body and help develop targeted drugs for the right patients from the earliest stages of research, across all our key disease areas.

About AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca is a global, innovation-driven biopharmaceutical business that focuses on the discovery, development and commercialisation of prescription medicines, primarily for the treatment of cardiovascular, metabolic, respiratory, inflammation, autoimmune, oncology, infection and neuroscience diseases. AstraZeneca operates in over 100 countries and its innovative medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide. For more information please visit:



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¹Chronic Kidney Disease – Emerging Markets Epidemiology, Decision Resources LLC 2013
²Diabetic Nephropathy – Emerging Markets Epidemiology, Decision Resources LLC 2013
ᶟJournal of American Medical Association, Sep 4, 2013 Vol382 July 20, 2013
⁵WHO data


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