Pharma giants forge pioneering cancer collaboration

AstraZeneca and Merck are teaming up for an unusual, early-stage clinical program that combines two experimental cancer therapies.

It's now quite common to combine an experimental oncology therapy with an approved drug to see if it can enhance the therapeutic effect of the treatment. But AstraZeneca and Merck are doing something unique in teaming up on a Phase I trial, pairing MK-2206 from Merck and AZD6244 from AstraZeneca to test on solid tumors.

"There is strong scientific rationale to suggest that the potential benefit to cancer patients of this combination may far exceed the sum of the parts," said Gary Gilliland, senior vice president and franchise head oncology, Merck Research Laboratories.  "In order to harness the true potential of the combined administration of the compounds, AstraZeneca and Merck have established a pioneering, early stage collaboration based on our mutual determination to develop impactful therapies that improve patients' lives."

The two pharma companies plan to share expenses for the Phase I trial and then analyze the program's results to determine how to proceed. And both companies say that the pact marks the start of a new trend in clinical research collaboratives.

- read the joint release

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