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Integrate and Collaborate to Drive Advancements in Oncology Treatments

June 24, 2014
Scientific innovation and exploration have driven exciting changes in the pharmaceutical industry’s understanding of cancer, from improvements in screening to the development of more personalized, treatments. In a 2014 BIO International Convention Super Session on Tuesday moderated by BioCentury Editor Susan Schaeffer, panelists discussed the pressing need for companies to increase collaboration with each other and with industry stakeholders, including patient advocacy groups and academic medical centers, to speed the development and delivery of new medicines.

Panelists included:

  • Jeff Allen, Executive Director, Friends of Cancer Research

  • Ronald A. DePinho, MD, President, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

  • Robert Hugin, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Celgene Corporation

  • Bahija Jallal, PhD, Executive Vice President, AstraZeneca, Head, MedImmune

  • Peter Lebowitz, Global Therapeutic Area Head of Oncology, Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of J & J


The panelists agreed that advances in immunotherapy and mechanism-based therapeutics have provided oncologists and patients with unprecedented access to information and treatment options. While these advancements have also increased the complexity of understanding and choosing treatments, drug developers, oncologists, research institutes and patient groups are forming unique partnerships that leverage each participant’s strengths to ensure that the potential of current and future innovations is fully realized.

Bringing great minds and resources together is one of the ways that the pharma industry and its stakeholders can move fast enough to address the pressing needs of patients. Participants should not focus solely on the success of their treatment but also on the design of future clinical trials. Underpinning these types of collaborations is the integration of clinical and research data, which allows development partners to learn as much from patients as possible, both retrospectively and prospectively.

The public-private Lung-MAP Public collaboration was cited as a unique clinical trial that allows both researchers and patients to evaluate therapies in a more efficient way. The National Cancer Institute, SWOG Cancer Research, Friends of Cancer Research, the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, five pharmaceutical companies – Amgen, Genentech, Pfizer, AstraZeneca and MedImmune – and Foundation Medicine are testing five different compounds at the same time.

Patients and advocacy groups want to participate in these processes. Patients especially appreciate knowing that their data is being used to drive collaboration and develop better processes for the future. These groups need to be involved in the design and execution of clinical research initiatives.

Panelists also identified several challenges that collaborators need to overcome, including establishing better data governance structures that make integrating clinical, research and chart data more through and efficient. The existing body of data is not adequately aggregated and analyzed to provider better treatments and therapies. Access and pricing were also two top-of-mind challenges, but participants acknowledged that new clinical trial designs, the use of existing patient and new genomic data, and capitalizing on shared services from a financial standpoint can help address these concerns.