Curie-Cancer bands together with Roche, Sanofi
By Mia Burns (email@example.com)
Curie-Cancer, the body responsible for developing Institut Curie’s industry partnership activities, and the Roche Institute for Research and Translational Medicine are strengthening their collaborative efforts. In 2009, the Institut Curie and Roche signed an initial three-year agreement to partner one another in a major preclinical research program. The aim of the partnership was to gain a better understanding of the mechanism of action from a new Roche antibody to target underserved and highly aggressive forms of breast cancer. The antibody was the first in a new therapeutic class.
The partnership gave Roche access to a platform of preclinical models, developed by the research teams at the Institut Curie. The organizations say that these models are highly representative of the tumors observed in patients. Using this platform, Roche was able to determine in which sub-type of breast cancer the antibody was most effective. The Institut Curie also owns the RPPA platform, or Reverse Phase Protein Analysis, which is globally one of the most sophisticated tools of its kind due to the number of cell activity markers it allows users to investigate. Using this platform, researchers were able to gain a more detailed understanding of the impact of the Roche antibody on the cancer cells at the molecular level, also to identify predictive response markers.
“The new agreement is preclinical only as a number of elements need to be proven before planning for clinical studies,” Celine Bouquet, director of the Roche Institute for Research and Translational Medicine told R&D Pharma Business Connect. “However, should it be the case, it can be expected that the agreement will be extended to cover the regulatory track as well.”
The combining of the expertise of the teams at Curie-Cancer and Roche during the preclinical development phase for the molecule made it possible to develop a better-defined protocol for the first clinical trials. This was a key factor in maximizing the success of these trials. Regarding clinical trials, the better-defined protocol has “allowed to better identify patients to be included in the trial (which is now on-going but not yet completed,” says Damien Salauze, director of Curie-Cancer.
Curie-Cancer and Roche are currently working on several translational research programs involving Roche molecules that make use of the same technology. As one example, a team of Curie-Cancer clinicians, anatomopathologists and researchers are working on developing a new Roche molecule targeting the tumor environment. This demonstrates how the Institut Curie successfully spans the complete development process from pure research to translational research to clinical research. In doing so, it encompasses the vision of its founder Marie Curie.
“It is vital that pharmaceutical laboratories consult with us about their needs and questions early in the molecule development process,” said Sergio Roman-Roman, director of translational research at the Institut Curie. “This allows us to propose partnership options that offer a wealth of expertise and a wide range of technological platforms. Scientific discussions of this kind also allow us to identify new, innovative approaches, some of which are based on pure research findings.”
Pure research is a source of knowledge, while clinical research is the motor of medical progress. Translational research forms the link between the two. It provides a solution to speed up the development of new treatment options through an improved understanding of cancer biology. Specifically, translational research enables scientists to define predictive markers in order to assess the effectiveness of new molecules and better identify the patient sub-groups that are most likely to benefit from them.
“Translational research brings all the different players together, for the benefit of everyone. We want to promote this way of working, so that patients have access to new treatment options sooner,” said Corinne Le Goff, president of Roche Pharma France and of the Roche Institute for Research and Translational Medicine. “Following the success of this first partnership, we are keen to work with Curie-Cancer as a preferred partner on our upcoming pre-clinical studies involving Roche molecules.”
Sanofi has also entered a three-year research collaboration with Curie Institute to identify new therapeutic targets for the development of treatments for ovarian cancer. The organizations claim that through the collaboration they expect to gain a better understanding of the molecular alterations that characterize many types of ovarian cancer, thereby enabling effective new drugs to be designed.
“We hope this type of long-term collaboration will ultimately open up perspectives for new therapeutic options for women with this disease,” said Dr. Debasish Roychowdhury, senior VP and head of Sanofi Oncology. “It will combine the accumulated knowledge on ovarian cancer gathered over many years by oncologists and biologists at the Institut Curie with the expertise of researchers from Sanofi’s research and product development teams. Established under the Aviesan partnership, this research agreement is a good example of translational research involving French scientific excellence.”
Posted: September 2013