In a new clinical development partnership being launched by the Cancer Research UK, and its commercial arm, Cancer Research Technology (CRT) plans to take up drug candidates that pharmaceuticals companies have 'deprioritised' for not showing enough commercial promise following their preclinical studies. By this they plan to develop new treatments from anti-cancer drugs that have been shelved by pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.
Under the scheme, companies will hand over molecules that once showed promise, but were never developed, and CRT will take on the clinical trials for those molecules. It is proposed that the Pharma and biotech firms will keep the intellectual property rights to the molecules they had shelved. After CRT has done clinical trials, the company will be given the option to take the molecule back and develop it themselves, or to leave it in the hands of the CRT scientists.
Harpal Kumar CRT chief executive hopes that the scheme that would cost up to £2 million a year, will help to identify at least five more drug molecules annually, to add to CRT's current portfolio of around 25 licensed molecules in the clinic.Kumar sounding very optimistic said that they Hopefully would be flooded with opportunities, he told reporters. Kumar was also keen to state a point that the project was not being developed as a money-spinner for the charity, but he said that the Cancer Research UK does expects to receive a share of any financial return made by the companies.
Richard Tiner, medical director of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) said that he personally could saw no reason for the scheme to fail, but accepted that there could be legal hurdles surrounding intellectual property rights and contracts. He explained that inevitably when discussing business or IP issues there will be differences of opinion. The CRT has approached around 20 leading pharmaceutical and biotech companies, and is close to deals with three. Victoria John, head of licensing for the clinical development partnerships scheme, said that those three opportunities is very good at this stage.
Kumar explained that the nature of the scheme means that many of the drug candidates might be used for rare cancers, but this will not colour the decision about which drugs to develop. He explained that just because one type of cancer is common, it doesn't mean it would get a higher priority than a rarer cancer.
ABPI's Tiner predicts that other medical charities will be watching the process carefully.