Nov. 28, 2011, was a great day for cancer patients and a dark day for cancer. For those of us in the standing-room-only crowd at MD Anderson’s South Campus, it also was a historic day as state officials ― including Gov. Rick Perry, University of Texas System Chancellor Francisco Ciggaroa, Ph.D., and UT System Board of Regents Chairman Gene Powell ― joined us to announce an unprecedented initiative, the Institute for Applied Cancer Science.
Blending the best of academia and industry, this new research and drug development institute is a no-holds-barred response to the poor performance of the nation’s current cancer drug development system. The institute will identify and validate cancer targets, convert that knowledge into new cancer drugs and advance novel agents into innovative “smart” clinical trials. It will enable MD Anderson to conduct deep biological analyses on an industrial scale. It will provide a new organizational model that systematically seeks to rigorously validate the importance of new targets in cancer and define the specific tumor types in which such targets are central to cancer cell viability. This knowledge will lead to a clear clinical path for testing new therapies in the right patients. And it will nurture collaboration among researchers, where success is measured by impact, and where decisions are patient-driven, not market-driven.
Strikingly, only 5-10% of potential cancer drugs entering into clinical trials survive to become approved treatments. Still worse, more than half of those fail in phase III clinical trials, the final step of development. This scorecard is unacceptable.
The Institute for Applied Cancer Science, with its growing roster of seasoned industry experts with impressive scientific credentials, will change that dismal scorecard by expediting the creation and delivery of new, highly effective drugs designed to hit critical targets identified in individual patients. This approach is destined to make a significant difference in their the lives of cancer patients everywhere.
Recent advances in science and technology make this a time of enormous opportunity to solve the cancer problem. With your support, we can harness the formidable infrastructure and talent of MD Anderson, the world’s premier cancer center, to make an industrial-strength assault on this dreaded disease. Thanks to your generosity and commitment to MD Anderson, history will write that together we truly lived up to our mission: Making Cancer History®.