An oncological group effort
PHILADELPHIA—GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has launched a global consortium consisting of itself and six internationally renowned comprehensive cancer centers based in the United States, Canada and Europe to collaborate on a scientific research network aimed at focusing on oncology clinical trials and combination drug therapies, as well as translational research.
Scientists and researchers from the chosen medical facilities have signed off on waging a joint battle to defeat cancer by sharing research information, results on clinical trials and medical concerns, GSK announced Dec. 5.
Known as the Oncology Clinical and Translational Consortium (OCTC), the members are Gustave Roussy in France, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, the Netherlands Cancer Institute, the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre at the University Health Network in Toronto and the Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology in Spain.
As founder of the consortium, GSK will gain OCTC’s expertise in preclinical, translational and clinical development of novel anticancer therapeutics, including kinase inhibitors, epigenome modulating compounds and immunotherapies, which are all key areas of focus of GSK’s cancer research drug discovery, says Robin Gaitens, director of external communications for GSK Global Communications.
While a number of top cancer hospitals were left out of the exclusive club, GSK maintains the consortium member cancer centers were chosen for specific criteria.
“Consortium members were selected for their international leadership and expertise in oncology research,” Gaitens tells DDNews. “Specifically, the members were selected based on having strong translational research programs and expertise in Phase 1 to Phase 3 trials.”
Projects driven through the OCTC will include Phase 1/2 single-agent and novel combination trials with GSK’s targeted and immune therapies, as well as preclinical studies, she says.
“Selection criteria also included research expertise in targeted therapies, kinase inhibitors and immunotherapies,” Gaitens adds. “The centers were also selected based on strong clinical operations and study management. In terms of future plans, the consortium will initially be kept to six members but may be expanded in the future.”
In forming the consortium, GSK gains the members’ expertise in novel anticancer therapeutics, which will complement novel anticancer development at GSK, Gaitens notes. But the consortium also aims to spark and execute innovative research programs, and as part of that, the centers gain access to GSK’s early- stage oncology pipeline and opportunities to advance the next generation of oncology therapeutics.
“Each OCTC member institution is recognized internationally as a leader in clinical and translational research,” Rafael Amado, head of oncology R&D at GSK, stated in a news release. “The consortium, together with GSK, will design and execute research programs in a focused and expeditious way, allowing us to potentially develop new diagnostic tools and medicines to better treat cancer patients.”
Axel Hoos, vice president of oncology R&D at GSK Pharmaceuticals, based at its U.S. headquarters in Philadelphia, is heading the new oncology consortium effort, where he directs clinical and translational research on molecular mechanisms of cancer and tumor-host interactions for rational combination of therapies.
Prior to his current role, Hoos, known as a bit of a wunderkind, was the medical lead in immunology/oncology at Bristol-Myers Squibb, where he helped develop the Yervoy monoclonal antibody in melanoma and other indications.
Details of costs associated with the consortium, as well as the specific projects to be undertaken, were not disclosed.
“GSK’s primary financial contribution at this point is to help pay the salary of a ‘collaboration manager’ at each institution,” GSK spokesperson Melinda Stubbee told WRALTechWire. “Researchers will work jointly to test possible treatments, and if one proves successful, the partners will negotiate ‘on a case by case basis’.”
The research net being cast is a wide one, extending to preclinical work with single and combination therapies, she added. GSK’s “new R&D focus is addressing novel combinations of oncology drugs” as part of the “new wave” in the field of research, Stubbee stated.
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
Netherlands Cancer Institute
Princess Margaret Cancer Centre
Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology