Pfizer and the provincial government of Alberta, Canada, said yesterday they will renew their support for the two-year-old Alberta-Pfizer Translational Research Collaboration, a two-year-old effort focused on promoting development and commercialization of innovations in health.

Pfizer agreed to contribute C$500,000 ($489,733), and Alberta’s government C$250,000 ($244,867), enlarging the fund to C$3.25 million ($3.18 million).

According to the group, one of its initiatives has shown promise—a project designed to identify which cancer patients will develop a resistance to certain chemotherapy drugs.

The original collaboration was signed November 15, 2011, by Pfizer, Alberta, and Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions (AIHS), which administers the collaboration by overseeing its independent, peer-review project selection process.

Last year, the collaboration received 50 letters of intent in response to its initial call for funding proposals, the Alberta/Pfizer Translational Research Fund Opportunity. That program was designed to support innovative translational research projects in areas of unmet health or health system need with a strong likelihood for technology transfer and commercialization over two to five years.

A committee of researchers and innovators with expertise in translational work at institutions across Canada reviewed the responses based on: relevance to priority areas, translational or commercial potential, significance and innovation, and relevant expertise of applicant(s). AIHS advanced 17 of the 50 letters of intent to full application stage, and ultimately approved funding seven projects.

The most promising project, according to the collaboration, is focused on answering why women who are treated with taxane chemotherapy often develop resistance to that chemotherapy, rendering it ineffective. Approximately 50% of those treated for metastatic breast cancer develop resistance to the taxane chemotherapy they’ve undertaken to manage their disease. Ing Swie Goping, Ph.D., and physicians Judith Hugh, M.D., John Mackey, M.D., and Todd McMullen, M.D., Ph.D., comprise the research team, which is examining better ways to predict who will develop chemotherapy resistance and what course of treatment would be beneficial for them.

Priority areas for collaboration research included neuroscience, Alzheimer’s Disease, neurodegeneration and other neurological diseases; pain and sensory disorders; immunology and autoimmunity; inflammation and remodeling; diabetes and cardiovascular or other chronic disease issues as they relate to the consequences of diabetes; and orphan and genetic diseases. 

“Alberta has a vibrant and growing medical research and life sciences community and we are pleased to partner with them to help accelerate commercialization of innovative health solutions in Canada,” John Helou, president of Pfizer Canada, said in a statement.

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