Boehringer Ingelheim will join with The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center to develop new treatments for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), the partners said today, through a collaboration whose value was not disclosed.

The partners said their collaboration will identify and develop therapeutic concepts involving new targets, as well as identify biomarkers that can accurately identify patients who would respond to potential new therapies.

“This partnership is a perfect match because it combines MD Anderson’s outstanding capabilities in preclinical concept validation and clinical testing with Boehringer Ingelheim’s strength in developing innovative medicines in novel target spaces such as epigenetics,” Michel Pairet, M.D., the company’s senior corporate vp of research and nonclinical development, said in a statement.

Boehringer Ingelheim added that the collaboration reflected its focus on developing drugs for difficult-to-treat diseases, as well as its commitment to precision medicine.

PDAC is the most common malignancy of the pancreas, with complete surgical removal of the tumor offering the only chance for cure. Newly diagnosed patients have a median survival of less than one year, and a five-year survival rate of less than 5%, translating into the loss of almost 40,000 lives each year, according to a report issued in November by a working group of the NIH’s National Cancer Institute Clinical Trials and Translational Research Advisory Committee.

In its report, the Progress in Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma (PDAC) Research Working Group, also called the PDAC Progress Working Group, updated its progress in addressing four previously identified initiatives aimed at expanding PDAC research:

  • Developing an in-depth understanding of the biological and clinical relationship between PDAC and recent-onset diabetes
  • Evaluating longitudinal screening protocols for biomarkers for early detection of PDAC and its precursors.
  • Identifying new therapeutic approaches in immunotherapy
  • Developing new treatment approaches that interfere with RAS oncogene-dependent signaling pathways.

“All of the initiatives in the scientific framework are still relevant, and that implementation progress is on target, but it is too early to assess scientific progress,” the Working Group concluded.


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