Eli Lilly is joining Cancer Research UK’s (CRUK) Combinations Alliance with the aim of finding new medicines for cancer therapy trials. The goal of the Alliance is to bring targeted experimental molecules owned by pharmaceutical companies to clinical trials in an effort to hasten the process by which patients can get new cancer treatments. The trials will test these new therapies alongside radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and other treatment combinations.

With support from CRUK’s Drug Development Office, the trials will be run and managed at hospitals across the United Kingdom through the Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre Network, an initiative funded by CRUK, the National Institute for Health Research in England, and the Departments of Health of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. As part of the Alliance, Lilly will grant access to the selected molecules to be tested as well as additional financial support.

“This latest addition to the initiative will provide a huge boost to the U.K. research community in identifying exciting new combination therapies and will mean that more U.K. patients will be able to take part in important clinical trials of potential new treatments,” said CRUK’s director of strategic partnerships Ian Walker, Ph.D., in a statement. “We’re continuing to look for additional parties who are interested in collaborating with us to enable us to offer a wider range of potential treatment options to patients in the future and to help us beat cancer sooner.”

AstraZeneca, which in 2011 signed a deal with CRUK to take combinations of experimental cancer drugs into early-phase clinical trials, was the first company to join the Combinations Alliance. Among the studies opened through the ECMC Combinations Alliance so far are a Phase Ib/IIa trial launched in 2012 of AstraZeneca’s AZD4547 alongside a combination of chemotherapy drugs cisplatin and capecitabine in patients with advanced stomach or esophageal cancer.

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