Deal follows on from Pfizer setting up a nonprofit with Lilly and Merck to conduct research on Asian cancers.

Pfizer formed a research partnership with Samsung Medical Center to generate gene-expression profiles of tumors from Koreans with liver cancer. The hope is that the findings will lead to targeted therapeutics that can be used not just in Korea but also in the rest of Asia.

A research team led by Samsung Medical Center scientists including Prof. Park Cheol-Guen, Prof. Im Ho-Young, and Prof. Paik Soon-Myung, director of the cancer research center, will conduct research in Seoul. Neil Gibson, Ph.D., vp of oncology research, will be responsible for the joint research program at Pfizer.

Samsung Medical Center has built a base of specimens in the liver cancer area. “This partnership will serve as a great opportunity to combine Pfizer’s know-how in drug development and Samsung Medical Center’s extensive genome information and technology in the liver cancer area,” says Dr. Gibson. “We further plan to share the ownership of collected and analyzed data with Samsung Medical Center.”

Pfizer signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Health and Welfare in 2007, agreeing to invest $300 million in R&D in Korea. As part of its commitment, the company also formed a strategic partnership with the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology and has been leading joint research since then.

In February Pfizer linked up with Eli Lilly and Merck & Co. to set up the Asian Cancer Research Group (ACRG) to concentrate on drug R&D for the most common cancers in Asia. The nonprofit company will initially focus on lung and gastric cancers, which are two of the most common cancers in Asia.

The aim for ACRG is to generate a pharmacogenomic cancer database comprising data from about 2,000 lung and gastric cancer tissue samples. The resulting data will be made publicly available to researchers and expanded through the addition of clinical data from a longitudinal analysis of patients.

The ACRG will initially establish collaborative relationships throughout the Asian region to collect tissue samples and data. “The ACRG is about sharing information for the common good,” stresses Kerry Blanchard, M.D., Ph.D., vp and leader of drug development in China for Lilly.

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