Twenty Academic Industry Alliances of 2012
Over the past few years, we have written about the critical partnerships that the pharmaceutical and medical device industries have created with academic medical centers and medical schools. Most recently, we wrote about a partnership between Novartis and the University of Pennsylvania to bring to market a new approach to fighting cancer that has shown promising results in early trials.
Previously, we wrote about a new drug research collaboration was announced between pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and the University of California San Diego, which could deliver up to $50 million to local scientists over the next five years, speed the delivery of promising therapies to patients and help refill the fast-depleting pipeline of the world’s largest pharmaceutical manufacturer.
Earlier this year, Merck announced a collaboration to create the California Institute for Biomedical Research (Calibr), an independent, not-for-profit organization--501(c)(3). We have also written several times about the University of California, San Francisco Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, who advocates for establishing closer relationships with industry in order to spark new ideas, fund research, access high-tech equipment and speed medical advances to patients.
Consequently, FierceBiotech recently ran a story describing 20 Major Pharma-Academic Alliances in 2012. We located descriptions of most of these alliances and provided background and links. It is interesting that many of the alliances are with institutions outside of the United States including Australia, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, Singapore and the UK
UCSF and Sanofi
The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) has signed an alliance with Sanofi to share expertise in diabetes research and identify drug targets that could lead to new therapies for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The $3.1 million collaboration will bring together scientists in three UCSF labs with deep understanding of the biology of beta cells – insulin-producing cells that are destroyed in type 1 diabetes and often produce too little insulin in type 2 – with Sanofi researchers who are experienced in developing potential drug candidates into actual therapies.
The alliance is the University’s third collaboration with Sanofi, alongside brain trauma and oncology research launched last year, since the two signed a master agreement in January 2011 to work together in translating academic science into potential new therapies. Master agreements lay out the fundamental terms of research collaborations, align with the University's academic mission including broad publication rights, and form part of a core strategy for the UCSF Office of Innovation, Technology and Alliances to expedite that “bench-to-bedside” research.
The University of Queensland, Australia and Johnson & Johnson
Johnson & Johnson and the University of Queensland will co-develop drugs using components of spider venom as a treatment for chronic pain. The maker of Ultram painkillers will work with Queensland’s Institute of Molecular Bioscience drug development program, the university said in a statement. Financial terms of the 12-month project were not disclosed. Spider venoms have peptides that may “substantially reduce or block the pain,” Richard Lewis, professor at the institute, said in a phone interview.
The University of Hong Kong, National University of Singapore, Pfizer, Lilly and Merck
Scientists at the Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) have unraveled the mechanism that causes liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma, HCC), one of the most common solid tumors worldwide. This genome-wide research was done in collaboration with colleagues from the National University of Singapore (NUS), University of Hong Kong, Eli Lilly & Co. USA, Merck Research Laboratories USA, Pfizer Oncology USA and Beijing Genomics Institute China
Novo Nordisk and the University of Oxford
Departing from its core competence, diabetes, Danish insulin giant Novo Nordisk (NOV: N) and the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology at Oxford University have entered into a new partnership to develop promising new drug candidates and identify novel biomarkers and treatment targets for rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune inflammatory diseases. Novo Nordisk will fund 10 Oxford researchers at the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology to work within the partnership. A Joint steering committee with members from both parties, including Per Falk and Prof Feldmann, will oversee the partnership and assess research proposals from scientists at both organizations.
University of Oxford and UCB
The University of Oxford and UCB have signed a partnership worth £3.6M to work together on cutting-edge pharmaceutical research projects. The new collaboration will see scientists from industry and academia working together to develop innovative medicines to treat serious diseases in the areas of immunology and neurology.
Novo Nordisk and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF)
To address the underlying autoimmune process that is central to type 1 diabetes (T1D), JDRF and Novo Nordisk are partnering to discover and develop novel immunotherapies to prevent, treat, and help cure the disease. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body's immune system attacks and destroys the glucose-responsive, insulin-secreting beta cells of the pancreas, resulting in a lifetime requirement of insulin replacement therapy. The collaboration between JDRF and Novo Nordisk will focus on research originating from academia and biotechnology companies, as well as from internal research projects at Novo Nordisk.
Bristol-Myers Squibb and Vanderbilt University
Vanderbilt University and Bristol-Myers Squibb Company announced a collaboration agreement for the discovery, development and commercialization of novel therapies acting on the mGluR4 glutamate receptor, known as positive allosteric modulators or PAMs, for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Under the collaboration, the Vanderbilt Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery (VCNDD) will identify drug candidates from its existing program, which obtained major support from The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF). Bristol-Myers Squibb will have the right to develop and commercialize products resulting from the collaborative research program.
Under the terms of the agreement, Vanderbilt University will receive an upfront payment and multi-year research funding to continue to discover additional compounds. Vanderbilt is eligible to receive milestones and royalties based on developmental success and worldwide sales of the drugs emerging from the collaboration. “The long-term commitment of and collaboration with the MJFF were critical to advancing this program to the stage where it is now perfectly positioned to work closely with Bristol-Myers Squibb for further development,” said P. Jeffrey Conn, Ph.D., VCNDD director and Lee E. Limbird, Chair in Pharmacology. “Partnering with Bristol-Myers Squibb is a real win for Vanderbilt and for Parkinson’s patients.”
Novartis and the University of Pennsylvania
See our story linked above in the introduction.
Sanofi, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Harvard Medical School
Sanofi SA, the French drug giant that bought Cambridge-based Genzyme Corp. for $20.1 billion last year, announced a new research collaboration with Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a teaching and research affiliate of Harvard Medical School. The collaboration is focused on the immunology of type 1 diabetes. Under the terms of the agreement, researchers from both organizations will undertake studies for a novel approach to treat type 1 diabetes. Sanofi has an option to exclusively license intellectual property emerging from this collaboration.
Merck and California Institute for Biomedical Research
Merck announced that it is putting $90 million over the next seven years into a new nonprofit biomedical research institute in San Diego called the California Institute for Biomedical Research (Calibr). The new institute will be led by Peter Schultz, the prominent chemist and biotech entrepreneur at The Scripps Research Institute, who previously ran The Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation. The driving concept of the institute is different than just being a branch of Merck’s $8.5 billion global R&D enterprise. By remaining at arm’s length, the company can put in some of its own money, and allow researchers to amplify it with other grant support from academic collaborators. Once a project has reached “preclinical proof of concept,” Merck then has the option to swoop in to in-license drug candidates for further development.
GlaxoSmithKline and Yale University
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Yale University will partner to design a new class of molecules to target disease-causing proteins. This is the latest in a string of deals between Yale’s academic researchers and global pharmaceutical companies. Under the agreement, the company is granted first chance to license promising protein-destroying drug candidates discovered in a research collaboration between GlaxoSmithKline and the laboratory of Craig Crews, the Lewis B. Cullman Professor of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, and professor of chemistry and of pharmacology at Yale.
The deal comes on the heels of other agreements signed by Yale with Gilead Sciences Inc., which is working with Yale to identify novel cancer therapeutics, and with Johnson & Johnson, which is also interested in drug candidates being developed at Yale’s West Campus.
AstraZeneca and Broad Institute
AstraZeneca and the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts announced a collaboration to identify new chemical compounds targeting bacterial and viral infections that could speed the development of new antibacterial and antiviral drugs. Under the agreement, screening and hit-to-lead chemistry will take place in the Broad’s Chemical Biology Platform and AstraZeneca will optimize, develop and commercialize potential compounds from identified, high-quality leads.
Pfizer, AZ, Janssen, J&J, Boehringer Ingelheim, GSK, Merck, and the University of Dundee
The five pharma’s will provide £14.4 ($23.1) million to fund a research consortium at the university for an additional four years. The Division of Signal Transduction Therapy (DSTT) consortium, which was founded in 1998, is studying cell signaling and developing inhibitors of kinases and phosphatases to treat diseases such as cancer, arthritis and lupus. Pharmas share access to unpublished results, technology, reagents and first license to IP. The DSTT includes 15 research teams based at the University of Dundee. Thirteen of the teams are based within the MRC Protein Phosphorylation Unit and Scottish Institute for Cell Signalling (SCILLS) at the College of Life Sciences. Together, consortium scientists will continue early-stage research in multiple areas, including cancer, arthritis, lupus, hypertension and Parkinson’s disease.
Abbott, AZ, Lilly, Bayer, Sanofi, Merck, Texas A&M University, Cornell Medical School, and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Seven pharmaceutical companies have opened up compound libraries and agreed to share data with each other and the research institutions under the Gates Foundation's TB Drug Accelerator program. The program shifted last year to implementing assays and tools into a drug discovery effort from building the assays and tools. The foundation hopes to have proof-of-concept for a one-month, three-drug regimen within 10 years. The structures of lead compounds identified will be placed in the public domain.
AZ, Genentech, Merck, and Washington University in St. Louis, School of Medicine
Pfizer, Lilly, Roche, Servier, J&J, Janssen, and Kings College, London
Five-year research project on autism to develop and validate translational research approaches for autism therapies and establish European clinical sites for autism trials. The project hopes to produce validated cellular assays, animal models, functional MRI (fMRI) methods, PET radioligands and biomarkers
Accuray and Rupercht-Karls, Universitat Heidelberg
Accuray Incorporated, the premier radiation oncology company, announced the signing of a multi-year master research and collaboration agreement with the University of Heidelberg, a luminary research institution located in Heidelberg, Germany that contributes to the city’s top international position in therapy, research and science. Accuray and the University of Heidelberg will collaborate on cutting-edge research in radiation oncology to advance treatment technology and provide health care professionals with the most advanced tools for treating patients.
AZ, Washington University in St. Louis, School of Medicine, Cornell Medical School, The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, and The University of British Columbia
AstraZeneca and Dr. Steven Paul of Weill Cornell Medical College announced a first of its kind research alliance that brings four leading academic research laboratories together with AstraZeneca to study a major risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, the apolipoprotein E4 genotype (ApoE). The newly established collaboration with AstraZeneca is called the A5 alliance. The A5 alliance members represent a team of academic scientists with expertise in ApoE biology who will focus on identification, validation, and risk reduction of drug targets for treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.