Working Together for the Greater Good: The Current State of the Collaborative Research Ecosystem in Oncology

Keeping the spirit of innovation alive in the oncology field is paramount to future scientific advances and finding cures.

John CastellaniJune 14, 2014

Keeping the spirit of innovation alive in the oncology field is paramount to future scientific advances and finding cures. An essential element of innovation is collaboration. Relevant stakeholders coming together and pooling collective knowledge together can ignite the fire that becomes the next big thing to improve the lives of cancer patients. On the heels of the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s (ASCO) annual meeting, where the oncology community came together to share ideas, learn about new scientific discoveries and to find out about the latest data—collaboration was at the forefront of the discussion.

As such, we asked in this week’s Conversations platform the following question:

We all want to better prevent, treat and cure the many forms of cancer. How close is the collaborative research ecosystem to achieving these goals, and what do we have to do to get there?

Increasingly, America’s biopharmaceutical companies are recognizing that a silo-based approach to research doesn’t always make the discovery of new and innovative treatments any faster. More and more companies are breaking down walls to increase communication, data, and research. Clinical trial work is being done to test the effects of various drug combinations and companies are partnering to share commercial sales and marketing efforts. As noted by Rafael Amado, GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK) Senior Vice President, Oncology R&D, GSK is working with Merck, Pfizer, Astra Zeneca and Amgen to develop combination therapies in oncology.

Josh Schafer, Astellas’ Vice President, Oncology Global Marketing Strategy, highlighted some of Astellas’ recent collaborations including establishing a compound sharing library with Daiichi Sankyo so that both companies can quickly and easily access approximately 400,000 selected compounds. Astellas also partnered with Medivation and Roche to bring new treatments to the marketplace for prostate cancer and Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer, respectively. With companies like these coming together for the collective good of cancer research, we are hopeful to see the 580,000 annual cancer deaths in the U.S. drop significantly in the near future. This is on top of the amazing advancements underway in fighting cancer, providing a significant value to patients and society.

Public-private partnerships are also becoming more commonplace. The Biomarkers Consortium, a research partnership managed by the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, is one such example where public-private collaboration works. Partnerships like these used to be confined to regulatory interactions for drug approvals. Now these entities are working together for a brighter future for cancer patients.

While we are seeing ground-breaking partnerships emerge between previously separate entities, traditional partnerships are also making waves. Patient advocacy groups are partnering with pharmaceutical companies to fund and conduct clinical trials and those same companies are partnering with academic research institutions to bring about the latest in cancer research. “The medicines of the future will likely come from the emergence of basic scientific discovery at industry and academic laboratories working in close partnership,” Rafael said.

All parties, whether private, public or academic, share a common goal of leveraging scientific discoveries into innovative treatments that improve patient lives and the continuation of these collaborative efforts will lead to life-changing outcomes.

I want to thank all of our respondents and encourage you to continue to share your thoughts on Facebook and Twitter as we continue this important dialogue.


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