Fibrosis or scar formation is a physiological response to injury. It may, however, also be pathological where continued fibrogenesis leads to organ dysfunction land ultimately, in many cases, organ failure. Indeed, it is estimated that close to 50% of all hospital admissions are a consequence of fibrotic disease. These include pulmonary fibrosis, cirrhotic liver disease, heart failure and most forms of chronic kidney disease. Despite the huge unmet clinical need, to date, there are only two targeted anti-fibrotic drugs in clinical use. Neither is particularly effective and both suffer from significant adverse effects.
Our laboratory focuses on developing new therapeutics to combat diseases that are characterized by fibrosis. We have a long track record of academic research with funding from both Canadian and international organizations including NIH (US), JDRF (worldwide), CIHR, KFOC and NHMRC (Australia). In addition, the laboratory has worked extensively with industry partners that include the global divisions of Novartis, Merck, Boehringer Ingelheim, Johnson & Johnson, Novo Nordisk and Astra Zeneca.
Most recently, a biotech company, Fibrocor therapeutics Inc., cofounded by Dr. Gilbert was spun-out of our laboratory’s research. Indeed, the laboratory is now entirely devoted to servicing the needs of Fibrocor with fibrogenic target identification, validation, therapeutic development and efficacy/safety testing in disease models of fibrosis that are predictive of outcomes in humans.
Several of the candidate compounds tested in our laboratory have been shown efficacy in preclinical testing. The most advanced of these is scheduled for first-in-human trials in 2022.