MD Anderson and Sanofi announce strategic collaboration to accelerate oncology research and development

New alliance will use insights from translational and clinical studies to better identify targets, combinations and potential new indications for current medicines

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Sanofi today announced a five-year strategic collaboration to accelerate the development of investigational treatments, including targeted and immune therapies, for patients with cancer. The alliance will combine MD Anderson’s clinical trials infrastructure and Sanofi’s pipeline of investigational treatments to lead biomarker-driven clinical studies to better understand how novel cancer drugs work.

“Our goal is to improve the outcome for patients with a range of difficult-to-treat cancers, which is best achieved through a deep understanding of how investigational new drugs work,” said Peter Adamson, M.D., global development head, Oncology and Pediatric Innovation at Sanofi. “This alliance leverages MD Anderson’s agile approach to early phase clinical trials, their laboratory capabilities and broad scientific expertise. This will get us to go/no-go decisions much faster and help us identify potential new combinations and indications more accurately. That will save precious time and help us expand the spectrum of patients who could potentially benefit from our therapies.”

MD Anderson manages one of the country’s largest oncology clinical trial programs, with well-established platforms for tissue collection, molecular and immune profiling, and data analysis. This infrastructure enables the comprehensive study of tumor samples taken before, during and after treatment to uncover valuable insights that help streamline patient selection and hasten the identification of new therapy combinations and indications.

“Not only do clinical trials help us to advance life-saving new treatments for our patients in need, they provide us with valuable information to understand which therapies may be more effective for which patients,” said Funda Meric-Bernstam, M.D., chair of Investigational Cancer Therapeutics. “We are pleased to collaborate with Sanofi in this effort to accelerate the development of a pipeline of innovative cancer therapies.”

The new alliance also will support investigations into additional indications and combinations for studies already in the clinic. Sanofi and MD Anderson scientists will collaborate on experimental design, applying a core set of biomarkers and assays. Joint projects also will apply novel investigational agents developed at Sanofi to existing tumor samples to obtain further data on their effects at different disease stages.

“MD Anderson’s expertise in deep immune phenotyping and molecular profiling will provide invaluable insights into our emerging immunotherapy assets, helping us refine our selection of indications and explore new avenues,” said Dmitri Wiederschain, Ph.D., global head of Immuno-Oncology Research at Sanofi. “The knowledge we gain in this collaboration will also deepen our shared understanding of cancers’ potential vulnerabilities.”

New findings, as well as large-scale molecular and phenotype datasets, will be applied to the design of new translational studies on selected Sanofi molecules, and guide the selection of indications. The collaboration is expected to launch its first projects in summer 2020.