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MD Anderson, Drug Maker Partner on Lung, GI Cancers

Cancer magnified

(PDPics, Pixabay)

12 Aug. 2019. MD Anderson Cancer Center and drug maker Boehringer Ingelheim agreed to jointly develop new treatments for lung and gastrointestinal cancers. Financial aspects of the multi-year collaboration were not disclosed.

The agreement calls for MD Anderson in Houston, part of the University of Texas system, to establish a “virtual research and development center” with Boehringer Ingelheim, based in Ingelheim, Germany. Under this arrangement, teams are expected to share data and analysis to advance Boehringer Ingelheim’s therapies for lung and gastrointestinal cancers. The cancer center and company cite data showing more than 4.1 million people die each year from lung and gastrointestinal cancers that include cancer of the throat, stomach, liver, pancreas, colon, and rectum. Lung cancers alone were responsible for 1.7 deaths in 2018.

The collaboration will focus initially on Boehringer Ingelheim’s research on inhibitors of KRAS gene pathways. The KRAS gene codes for proteins causing cells to proliferate, mature, and die. When it mutates, KRAS pathways are associated with some types of non-small cell lung cancer, colorectal cancer, and pancreatic cancer. The partnership is also investigating a receptor for human antibodies with the acronym TRAILR2, short for tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand, receptor 2. These antibodies shows promise in encouraging tumor cell death.

Taking part in the collaboration, is MD Anderson’s Traction unit, short for Translational Research to AdvanCe Therapeutics and Innovation in ONcology. This operation, says the cancer center, consists of clinicians, researchers, and drug development experts working on small molecule, biologic, and cell-based therapies. The platform is designed to advance promising cancer treatments through preclinical stages to meet standards for beginning early-stage clinical trials.

MD Anderson and Boehringer Ingelheim say the arrangement offers the flexibility to advance joint projects at various stages of development from initial research to clinical trials, over their collaboration time. “Together, we hope to transform the treatment landscape for these diseases by tackling their root causes and drivers, that have so far remained elusive, exploring new and smart ways of killing cancer cells,” says Victoria Zazulina,, Boehringer Ingelheim’s corporate vice president for oncology in a joint statement.

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