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February 12, 2008

Dana-Farber Allies With Merck & Co. on Cancer Drug R&D

  • The Center for Applied Cancer Science (CACS) of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Merck & Co. inked a collaboration to identify drug targets and develop related compounds for cancer indications. The partners hope to improve the success rate of investigational drugs entering clinical trials.

    “Currently, there is a 95 percent failure rate in cancer drug development,” points out Ronald DePinho, M.D., of the CACS. “Drugs that pass safety testing in Phase I trials too often fail to show efficacy in later-stage trials, or prove effective in only a small subset of patients.”

    Under the terms of the agreement, the CACS will receive upfront and research support funding from Merck as well as milestone and royalties. CACS will conduct integrative and cross-species genomic analysis as well as multilevel functional and clinicopathological validation testing. Additionally, the CACS will work with Merck on the drug assay development of lead compound discovery and to test these drugs in CACS’ model systems that closely replicate human disease.

    The collaboration will also further evaluate tumor pathobiology and clinical outcomes to better pinpoint the tumor types most susceptible to the drug.