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An NCATS Drug Candidate Moves On

A drug candidate dubbed Aes-103 that was developed by researchers at the US National Institute of Health's National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences has been acquired by Baxter International's BioScience business.

According to NIH, Aes-103 was developed to target the underlying molecular mechanism of sickle cell disease, and Baxter will now usher the drug through the next stages of clinical development with an eye toward obtaining regulatory approval and commercializing the drug.

"This is a wonderful example of why NCATS was created," NIH Director Francis Collins says in a statement. "The progress made thus far in the development of Aes-103 demonstrates NCATS' catalytic role in bringing together the necessary players, whether academic, nonprofit or industry, to overcome obstacles to translation and advance badly needed treatments to patients."

NCATS was established in late 2011 to focus on shepherding new possible disease diagnostics and treatments from the bench to the bedside. It endured much criticism both for how the center was established and for its lofty goals. If industry, which has spend a lot of time and money on the issue of translating basic research findings to the clinical, has made little improvement, NIH's efforts "will, in all likelihood, add very little more," said In the Pipeline's Derek Lowe in 2011.

The center in 2012 embarked on a clinical trial with the National Human Genome Research Institute and New Zealand Pharmaceuticals to study DEX-M74, a drug for hereditary inclusion body myopathy.