Gilead, Yale collaboration to target novel cancer therapies
03-30-2011
by Kelsey Kaustinen  |  Email the author

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NEW HAVEN, Conn.—Gilead Sciences, Inc. and Yale School of Medicine are two of the most recent organizations to join in the collaboration trend. The two announced that they have formed a multi-year research collaboration, with a focus on discovering novel cancer therapies. The timeline for the partnership is set at four years initially, with an option to renew the collaboration for up to ten years. Gilead will provide research support to the tune of $40 million, as well as basic science infrastructure development, and if the collaboration is renewed, will provide a total of up to $100 million over the ten-year period. In return, Gilead will have the first option of licensing Yale inventions resulting from the agreement.  
 
"The collaboration brings together one of the world's top research universities and a biopharmaceutical company dedicated to addressing unmet medical needs with the goal of finding new treatments for cancer," says Richard C. Levin, Yale President. "I can't think of a better partner to have in this collaboration than Gilead."  
 
Yale and Gilead will be developing a multi-disciplinary research program focused on searching for the genetic basis and underlying molecular mechanisms of various forms of cancers. The researchers will be working on identifying new molecular targets that can provide a better understanding of the basis of disease as well as enable the development of novel targeted therapies, including therapies capable of overcoming the drug resistance that can develop in cancer patients treated with existing targeted therapies.
 
"When we find cancer targets that are new, we will work with Gilead on designing drugs, which they can then test in the clinic," says Dr. Joseph Schlessinger, chair of Yale's Department of Pharmacology and director of the Cancer Biology Institute at West Campus. "This is a tremendous opportunity for Yale and Gilead."  
 
Research projects for the collaboration will be decided upon by 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 Yale science team. The Yale Center for Genome Analysis at West Campus will be analyzing the DNA of a variety of tumor types to search for genetic mutations that are associated with cancers. Schlessinger's team will study the data to understand the effects of gene mutations on cancer, in addition to looking for ways to intervene in the disease process.
 
"Yale's faculty in this partnership possess critical and complementary skills that comprise an optimal team for cancer drug development," says Dr. Robert Alpern, Dean of the Yale School of Medicine. "Tom Lynch brings experience in clinical cancer trials, Rick Lifton has been a leading innovator in genetics and genomics and Yossi Schlessinger has unparalleled success in cancer drug development."  
 
The collaboration represents a bit of an expansion for Gilead in terms of the oncology focus. Most of Gilead's focus is based on HIV/AIDS, liver disease and serious cardiovascular/metabolic and respiratory disorders. The company currently has 13 products on the market as treatment for these issues, with another 16 currently in the trial process. One of those is GS 6624, a human monoclonal antibody (mAb) that is currently being studied both as a treatment for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and as a treatment for solid tumors.
 
"Following Gilead's recent acquisitions of cancer development programs, this partnership serves to strengthen our discovery capabilities in the area of oncology," says Norbert W. Bischofberger, Ph.D., Gilead's executive vice president of Research and Development and Chief Scientific Officer. "Based on the strong track-record of the Yale cancer research team, I am confident this collaboration will lead to important advances in the understanding of the genetic basis of cancer as we collectively seek to develop novel targeted therapies for patients in areas of unmet medical need."
Code: E03301101

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