Gilead, Yale collaboration to target novel cancer therapies

Gilead Sciences, Inc. and Yale School of Medicine are two of the most recent organizations to join in the collaboration trend.

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NEW HAVEN, Conn.—Gilead Sciences, Inc. and Yale School ofMedicine are two of the most recent organizations to join in the collaborationtrend. The two announced that they have formed a multi-year researchcollaboration, with a focus on discovering novel cancer therapies. The timelinefor the partnership is set at four years initially, with an option to renew thecollaboration for up to ten years. Gilead will provide research support to thetune of $40 million, as well as basic science infrastructure development, andif the collaboration is renewed, will provide a total of up to $100 millionover the ten-year period. In return, Gilead will have the first option oflicensing Yale inventions resulting from the agreement.
"The collaboration brings together one of the world's topresearch universities and a biopharmaceutical company dedicated to addressingunmet medical needs with the goal of finding new treatments for cancer," saysRichard C. Levin, Yale President. "I can't think of a better partner to have inthis collaboration than Gilead."
Yale and Gilead will be developing a multi-disciplinaryresearch program focused on searching for the genetic basis and underlyingmolecular mechanisms of various forms of cancers. The researchers will beworking on identifying new molecular targets that can provide a betterunderstanding of the basis of disease as well as enable the development ofnovel targeted therapies, including therapies capable of overcoming the drugresistance that can develop in cancer patients treated with existing targetedtherapies.
"When we find cancer targets that are new, we will work withGilead on designing drugs, which they can then test in the clinic," says Dr.Joseph Schlessinger, chair of Yale's Department of Pharmacology and director ofthe Cancer Biology Institute at West Campus. "This is a tremendous opportunityfor Yale and Gilead."
Research projects for the collaboration will be decided uponby a joint steering committee, which will be chaired by Schlessinger. Dr.Thomas Lynch, Director of the Yale Cancer Center, will also be part of the Yalescience team. The Yale Center for Genome Analysis at West Campus will beanalyzing the DNA of a variety of tumor types to search for genetic mutationsthat are associated with cancers. Schlessinger's team will study the data tounderstand the effects of gene mutations on cancer, in addition to looking forways to intervene in the disease process.
"Yale's faculty in this partnership possess critical andcomplementary skills that comprise an optimal team for cancer drugdevelopment," says Dr. Robert Alpern, Dean of the Yale School of Medicine. "TomLynch brings experience in clinical cancer trials, Rick Lifton has been aleading innovator in genetics and genomics and Yossi Schlessinger hasunparalleled success in cancer drug development."
The collaboration represents a bit of an expansion forGilead in terms of the oncology focus. Most of Gilead's focus is based onHIV/AIDS, liver disease and serious cardiovascular/metabolic and respiratorydisorders. The company currently has 13 products on the market as treatment forthese issues, with another 16 currently in the trial process. One of those isGS 6624, a human monoclonal antibody (mAb) that is currently being studied bothas a treatment for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and as a treatment for solidtumors.
"Following Gilead's recent acquisitions of cancerdevelopment programs, this partnership serves to strengthen our discovery capabilitiesin the area of oncology," says Norbert W. Bischofberger, Ph.D., Gilead'sexecutive vice president of Research and Development and Chief ScientificOfficer. "Based on the strong track-record of the Yale cancer research team, Iam confident this collaboration will lead to important advances in theunderstanding of the genetic basis of cancer as we collectively seek to developnovel targeted therapies for patients in areas of unmet medical need."

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