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Volume 85 Issue 46 | p. 13 | News of The Week
Issue Date: November 12, 2007

University Of Texas Clinic Will Partner With GlaxoSmithKline

Department: Science & Technology, Business | Collection: Life Sciences

The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center and GlaxoSmithKline are forming a five-year alliance to develop therapeutic, diagnostic, and imaging techniques and products for cancer research. The partners will focus on integrating preclinical and clinical programs for disease intervention.

The GSK alliance is similar to one M. D. Anderson formed two years ago with AstraZeneca. Robert C. Bast, vice president for translational research at M. D. Anderson, says the center is pursuing drug company partnerships not only to merge early- and late-stage research efforts, an approach known as translational research (see related story on page 17), but also to remove logistical and administrative hurdles that delay clinical trials.

According to Bast, major pharmaceutical companies traditionally discover and develop drug candidates, obtain clinical trial approvals from FDA, and only then take the drugs to academic centers for patient testing. "Very often, there can be months of delay between the time that FDA signs off on a drug and the time that the first patients get on trial," he says.

Working in partnership, he explains, will reduce this time by giving clinicians access to drugs earlier in development so they can begin identifying relevant biomarkers, developing diagnostic imaging tools, and designing trials.

Over the past year, Bast says, M. D. Anderson and AstraZeneca have cut the time from finalizing a clinical protocol to beginning trials by about three months. They even started one trial within a day of finalizing FDA approval of a New Drug Application.

M. D. Anderson expects to announce two more industry partnerships in the next few months, according to Bast.

The deal with GSK includes an agreement to perform an undisclosed number of trials annually over the five-year period, Bast says. It also establishes a two-year clinical sciences fellowship at M. D. Anderson, scheduled to begin this fall.

 
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