A robust innovation alliance in oncology

Public-private alliance will create efficient partnership opportunities in oncology drug development and pathway discovery

Kelsey Kaustinen
SAN FRANCISCO—Onyx Pharmaceuticals Inc. and University ofCalifornia, San Francisco's (UCSF) Helen Diller Family Comprehensive CancerCenter have announced an umbrella public-private partnership dubbed theOncology Innovation Alliance.
Although several areas of interest have already beenidentified, the specific research and projects the alliance will pursue won'tbe solidified until the end of the summer. Because the nature of thepartnership is quite broad, it is difficult even for its participants topredict with certainty the projects on which it will focus first. Thecollaborators have, however, announced that the partnership will focus on thediscovery and development of novel therapies and their potential role intreating various types of hematologic cancers and solid tumors.
 
A joint steering committee consisting of threerepresentatives each from Onyx and UCSF has been selected and met last month todetermine the details and goals of the alliance, and to begin looking atproposals. Generally speaking, the alliance will focus on biomarker target discovery,drug discovery and understanding pathways relevant to malignancies in oncology,as well as discussing creative ways to move clinical trials forwardefficiently.
 
 
The agreement extends for three years, and financial termswere not disclosed.
 
"This collaboration will leverage expertise across UCSF andOnyx to further our collective understanding of cancer and hopefully translatescientific research rapidly from the laboratory to the clinic and ultimately topatients," Dr. Pablo J. Cagnoni, executive vice president of global R&D andtechnical operations at Onyx, said in the media release announcing theformation of the Oncology Innovation Alliance. "The UCSF Helen Diller FamilyComprehensive Cancer Center is a recognized leader in oncology research and patientcare, and Onyx is committed to forming strategic alliances that encourageinnovation and the advancement of new treatments for patients."
 
 
The partnership between Onyx and UCSF developed out of alongstanding history of interaction and cooperation. The two SanFrancisco-based entities have worked together informally in the past, and haveundertaken several research collaborations together. One of Onyx's founders,Dr. Frank McMormick, is now director of the USCF Cancer Center.
Both parties were attracted to the prospect of abroad-ranging collaboration aimed at addressing the full continuum of cancercare that is central to the expertise at both Onyx and UCSF.
 
 
"In light of our belief at Onyx in the importance ofpublic/private partnerships, we wanted to make sure we secured a broadcollaboration and not just a one-off," says Danielle Bertrand, senior managerof public affairs at Onyx Pharmaceuticals. "We were attracted to this style ofpartnership with UCSF because of our shared belief that the best way to advancescience and accelerate treatments is by working together."
 
"One advantage to partnering broadly in this way is thatyou've essentially gotten the paperwork part of it out of the way," says Dr.Stephanie Robertson, alliance director and director of strategic development inthe Office of Innovation, Technologies & Alliances at UCSF. "You've got thelegal side already worked out, so you're able to move projects more quicklyinto the research or trials you want to do. It makes the process easier."
 
Onyx Pharmaceuticals is a biopharmaceutical company focusedon the development and commercialization of innovative cancer therapies andnovel medicines targeting key molecular pathways. 
 
 
UCSF is dedicated to promoting health worldwide throughadvanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences andhealth professions and excellence in patient care. It is among the world's toprecipients of U.S. biotechnology patents and has consistently led theUniversity of California system in annual license income, total patents andtotal licenses. UCSF has a wide variety of research partnerships with companiesin pharmaceuticals, biotech, high-tech and other innovative industries.

Kelsey Kaustinen

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