HOUSTON—The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center has announced the establishment of a research alliance with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to further its pursuit of immunotherapies for fighting cancer. The collaboration is part of a plant to partner with pharmaceutical companies to advance the development of immunotherapies as part of MD Anderson’s Moon Shots Program, a 10-year initiative to speed the development of therapies and other interventions that can significantly reduce cancer deaths.
“This collaboration brings together MD Anderson’s basic science capabilities with GSK’s drug discovery and development expertise, and our growing immuno-oncology portfolio,” Dr. Axel Hoos, vice president of Oncology R&D and leader of GSK’s immuno-oncology programs, said in a press release. “The alliance will build on the strengths of both organizations to innovate in translational research, which will enhance drug development programs in this fast-growing area.”
Under the aegis of the program, GSK and MD Anderson will collaborate to identify new therapeutic approaches, evaluate patient responses in clinical trials and develop immunotherapy drugs.
“With this agreement, we’ve now completed our fourth and final major collaboration with large companies who share our commitment to deliver on the promise of immunotherapy, using the resources of our immunotherapy platform,” Dr. Ferran Prat, J.D., vice president of MD Anderson Strategic Industry Ventures, commented in a press release. “We’re also committed to help leading start-ups establish a foothold in this exciting field, but collaborating with this select group of highly committed companies will help bring new therapies to patients faster.”
“We welcome the opportunity to work closely with GSK to build upon the early successes of immunotherapy by extending this approach to many types of cancer and exploring ways to improve treatment effectiveness,” added Dr. Jim Allison, MD Anderson chair of Immunology and executive director of the immunotherapy platform.
This is the second collaboration MD Anderson has announced in conjunction with its Moon Shots Program in the past few months. On March 13, MedImmune, AstraZeneca’s global biologics research and development arm, announced that it had begun a three-year translational and clinical research collaboration with MD Anderson for immunotherapies to target cancers. MedImmune is conducting clinical trials with a therapeutic paragidm that targets immune cells in hopes of improving their ability to fight tumors rather than targeting the tumor cell itself. Under the collaboration, MD Anderson will evaluate a number of MedImmune’s immunotherapy molecules in the clinic to better determine how they engender an immune response from patients. No financial terms were disclosed.
“We are excited to work with MD Anderson in the Moon Shots program, pairing their unique immunotherapy platform with our innovative portfolio of immune-mediated cancer therapies,” Dr. Ed Bradley, senior vice president and head of MedImmune’s Oncology Innovative Medicines Unit, said of the agreement. “Our partnership will provide MedImmune with an invaluable opportunity to evaluate the biological impact of our immune-mediated cancer agents, both as monotherapy and combination therapy.”