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BCRF Launches New Drug Research Collaborative

By BCRF | February 22, 2016

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal, “Researchers Take Aim at Metastatic Breast Cancer,” (published Feb. 15) touched on a pervasive problem in cancer research today. One of the greatest challenges to advancing effective, life-saving treatments is the lack of funding to ensure access to drugs in development.

As the largest nonprofit funder of breast cancer research this year, BCRF is actively combatting this issue by launching the Drug Research Collaborative, specifically devoted to bridging the gap between academic investigators and access to drugs in development. Initially funded by a three-year, $15 million grant from Pfizer, researchers will also have access to the company’s broad portfolio of approved products and its pipeline of drugs still under development. As the program grows, we hope to see other companies join this new funding model to propel research forward, faster.

“This research effort speaks to the breadth of BCRF’s research program, which supports some of the brightest minds in cancer research around the world,” said Larry Norton, M.D., BCRF Scientific Director and Medical Director of the Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. “It will encourage more creative, academic-driven research and give more patients access to clinical trials.  We believe this unique approach has the potential to greatly accelerate and impact research progress, and ultimately, lead to more breakthrough discoveries.”

“BCRF is excited to partner with industry in this new way, independently vetting and guiding high-quality investigator-initiated studies. Academic researchers will have the freedom to design and implement clinical trials and correlative studies that might not otherwise be completed,” said Clifford Hudis, M.D., Chairman of the BCRF Scientific Advisory Board and Vice President for Government Relations and Chief Advocacy Officer at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. 

The program holds the potential to be a game-changer. While we continue searching for ways to prevent metastatic breast cancer, simultaneously, we cannot lose focus on the women and men who are living with the disease today. New treatments are painfully needed with 40,000 Americans dying from metastatic breast cancer each year.

“Pfizer Oncology is committed to innovative cancer research.  Our goal is to speed the development of cures and accessible, breakthrough medicines for patients and redefine life with cancer,” said Maria Koehler, MD, PhD, Vice President of Strategy, Innovation and Collaborations for Pfizer Oncology. “We believe that great science comes through collaboration. This unique initiative allows the greatest scientific minds across the globe to help advance research with our portfolio. By supporting this initiative, we can achieve more and ensure that more breakthrough therapies are discovered and reach the patients who need them as rapidly as possible.”

To speed the clinical research components of the Drug Research Collaborative, all clinical trials will be conducted by the Translational Breast Cancer Research Consortium (TBCRC). TBCRC was founded in 2007 with BCRF support to connect multiple academic institutions to partner collaboratively for multi-center Phase I and Phase II clinical trials. Today the TBCRC includes 17 academic institutions and since its founding has initiated  37 trials enrolling over 3000 patients.  

With the largest study of metastatic breast cancer underway made possible by the Evelyn H. Lauder Founder’s Fund, and this new program to open access for researchers and drug therapies, we are closer than ever before to ending the insidious disease.