Boehringer, MD Anderson build out 'virtual R&D center' for cancer research

Boehringer Ingelheim
Boehringer has been busy penning a series of pacts inside and outside of oncology to boost work on its pipeline. (Boehringer Ingelheim)

German pharma Boehringer Ingelheim and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center have joined forces to create a new “virtual” R&D hub so the pair can work on cancer drugs.

The so-called Virtual Research and Development Center will see experimental gastrointestinal and lung cancer therapies out of Boehringer’s pipeline combined with the drug-development capabilities at MD Anderson.

To start, the center will look at KRAS pathway inhibitors and a TRAIL-R2 antibody (with the potential to selectively induce cancer cell death) from Boehringer as it looks to make deeper advances out of its pipeline.

The center will also “enable effective data sharing and analysis between the organizations,” the pair said in a statement.

“We could not have chosen a better partner with all its research, translational and clinical expertise in lung and gastrointestinal cancers. Together, we hope to transform the treatment landscape for these diseases by tackling their root causes and drivers, that have so far remained elusive, exploring new and smart ways of killing cancer cells,” explained Dr. Victoria Zazulina, corporate vice president and global head of oncology medicine at Boehringer.

“Our innovative oncology pipeline coupled with strong partnerships like this will contribute to unraveling the complexities of these diseases and bringing innovative solutions to people with various types of cancers.”

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Boehringer came into the oncology game a few years back with the approval of its lung cancer med Giotrif and has since been busy penning a series of pacts inside and outside of oncology to boost work on its pipeline.

This includes recent deals with Swiss cancer vaccine biotech Amal Therapeutics, which it bought just last month, and late last year it also inked a $300 million deal with Epizyme for research into two previously unaddressed regulators of genes linked to cancer.

“Within MD Anderson, we are committed to a singular goal of ending cancer,” added Tim Heffernan, Ph.D., executive director of TRACTION at MD Anderson. “We look forward to working with Boehringer Ingelheim to advance their innovative pipeline of cancer medicines. Our Therapeutics Discovery team is well-poised to conduct impactful translational research, and this partnership will allow us to more rapidly advance much-needed new therapies to patients.”