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Collaborative Agreement Focuses on Development of Small-Molecule Therapeutics for Leukemia and Other Cancers

By Labmedica International staff writers
Posted on 28 Mar 2016
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A collaborative agreement between a renowned American university-based research institute and one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world will focus on the development of small-molecule therapeutics for leukemia and other cancers.

Harvard University (Cambridge, MA, USA) has entered into an exclusive license and research collaboration agreement with Merck (Kenilworth, NJ, USA) to exploit novel compounds that had been developed in research laboratories at Harvard. These compounds offer an innovative approach to cancer treatment, targeting enzymes that regulate transcription.

Merck will be responsible for development of the candidate therapeutics and will engage in a research collaboration Harvard to further investigate the biology of transcriptional regulator enzymes.

Under the terms of the license agreement, Merck will pay Harvard an up-front fee of 20 million USD and will be responsible for development, including clinical development, and for worldwide commercialization of products. Harvard University will also be eligible to receive development and commercialization milestone payments, as well as tiered royalties on any resulting products.

“Accelerator funding over the course of several years has enabled my laboratory to advance some of our experimental compounds to a relatively late stage of preclinical development,” said Dr. Matthew Shair, professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Harvard University. “It is gratifying to have discovered a new biological target in the fight against acute myeloid leukemia (AML), but even more fulfilling to have created a promising weapon against it.”

“This recent agreement with the Shair laboratory is rooted in our belief that collaboration is the cornerstone for improving cancer care and driving innovation. It is the partnership among industry and academia that is truly critical to transforming cancer treatment and advancing the care for patients with difficult-to-treat blood cancers, such as acute myeloid leukemia,” said Dr. Eric Rubin, vice president and therapeutic area head, oncology early stage development at Merck Research Laboratories.

“University researchers bring a great degree of creativity and innovation to the toughest challenges in human medicine,” said Isaac T. Kohlberg, senior associate provost and chief technology development officer at Harvard University. “Professor Shair’s inventive leukemia research has reached a stage of development that is unusual in most universities but of great interest to the health care industry and ultimately to patients. His work could change the way clinicians treat a major disease.”

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