RESEARCH PLATFORM FOR
THE MOON SHOTS PROGRAM
The Translational Research to
Therapeutics and Innovation in
ONcology (TRACTION) platform is on a mission to
develop innovative targeted cancer therapeutics for unmet oncology
needs. As part of MD Anderson’s Therapeutics
Discovery division, a unique group of clinicians, researchers
and drug development experts working collaboratively to develop small
molecule, biologic, and cell-based therapies, the TRACTION platform
can rapidly translate novel discoveries into therapeutics to be
evaluated in Phase I studies. Uniting industry-seasoned professionals
with highly successful academic scientists, this platform is dedicated
to provide the desperately needed next generation of cancer medicines.
The TRACTION platform is fueled by MD Anderson’s Moon Shots Program™,
and has also received philanthropic support from The Kleberg
Foundation, The Cullen Trust and The Sheikh Ahmed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan
Center for Pancreatic Cancer Research.
Tim Heffernan, Ph.D.
Executive Director and Head, Oncology Research
Joseph Marszalek, Ph.D.
Translating discoveries to drugs
Creating a cancer drug typically takes years of research and testing. Cancer patients deserve better.
The TRACTION platform helps with:
- Improving the speed of drug development; translating cancer discoveries into drugs at a faster rate
- Identifying specific patient populations most likely to respond to drugs in safe, effective clinical trials
The TRACTION platform integrates world-class drug discovery and
translational research teams with a ground-breaking computational
biology infrastructure. Having unparalleled access to patient samples
and an industry-trained in vivo pharmacology unit
helps us expedite the testing of novel therapeutic hypotheses for
treatment of cancer in defined patient populations.
Selecting the right patient populations
Working closely with the small-molecule drug development team at the Institute for Applied Cancer Science (IACS), the TRACTION platform aims to deliver new agents and therapies to the clinic. Cross-functional, multi-disciplinary teams work together to identify patient populations that will be most responsive to these novel agents by developing a deep understanding of the biology driving specific tumor-dependencies and using this knowledge to turn those dependencies into vulnerabilities.
Besides identifying new precision medicines, scientists from TRACTION work with MD Anderson’s Moon Shots™ to develop therapeutic regimens to be positioned in Phase I clinical trials. This means better treatments for patients and more successful clinical trials to get these therapies into the marketplace faster than traditional pharmaceutical efforts.
Since its inception, TRACTION has partnered with IACS to develop a strong pipeline of new cancer therapeutics targeting specific patient populations with unmet medical needs. TRACTION and IACS have positioned a lead molecule for acute myeloid leukemia to enter first-in-human trials by Fall 2016, and a second novel therapeutic is projected for IND-filing in mid-2017.
In 2015, the TRACTION platform launched a partnership with Boehringer-Ingelheim to leverage its state-of-the art functional genomics capabilities to identify novel therapeutic targets in pancreatic cancer and co-develop drugs to these targets. This collaboration marries TRACTION's unique capabilities and clinical development pipelines with Boehringer-Ingelheim’s large-pharma drug discovery infrastructure to deliver therapies to one of the most underserved groups of patients. Additionally, TRACTION is enabling the Moon Shots Program by providing unparalleled access to our translational scientists, computational biologists and our in vivo pharmacology unit to test clinically-relevant hypotheses in the most advanced preclinical models, thus providing for the rationale for novel therapeutic regimens.