News Feature | April 10, 2014

GSK Partners With MD Anderson For Cancer Immunotherapies Development

By Estel Grace Masangkay

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center announced its new collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline to advance development of cancer immunotherapies.

The collaboration will focus on the identification of new therapeutic approaches, evaluation of patient outcomes in clinical testing, and utilization of resulting information to develop drugs that recruit the body’s own immune system against cancer.

Axel Hoos, VP Oncology R&D at GlaxoSmithKline, said, “This collaboration brings together MD Anderson’s basic science capabilities with GSK’s drug discovery and development expertise, and our growing immuno-oncology portfolio. 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.”

In recognition of the potential of immune-based therapies against cancer, MD Anderson created one of the platforms that supported its Moon Shots Program. Moon Shots is the institution’s 10 year commitment for faster development of therapies and other treatments that reduce deaths from cancer. Immunology is a rising trend in cancer research as therapies shift focus from indiscriminate methods of chemotherapy towards stimulating the body’s own natural anticancer defenses.

Ferran Prat, VP of MD Anderson Strategic Industry Ventures, said, “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. 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.”

The two organizations previously collaborated in December 2012 to focus on the development and licensure of antibodies for enhanced immune function.

“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,” said Jim Allison, chair of Immunology and executive director of the immunotherapy platform at MD Anderson.