Lilly, Merck, and Pfizer Join Forces to Fight Cancer

February 25, 2010
Stephanie Sutton

Stephanie Sutton was an assistant editor at Pharmaceutical Technology Europe.

ePT--the Electronic Newsletter of Pharmaceutical Technology

Eli Lilly, Merck Sharp & Dohme, and Pfizer form the Asian Cancer Research Group, a nonprofit aimed at accelerating research and improving treatment for patients affected with the most commonly diagnosed cancers in Asia.

Eli Lilly (Indianapolis, IN), Merck Sharp & Dohme (Whitehouse Station, NJ), and Pfizer (New York) formed the Asian Cancer Research Group (ACRG), a nonprofit aimed at accelerating research and improving treatment for patients affected with the most commonly diagnosed cancers in Asia. According to a press release, the group will freely share the resulting data with the scientific community.

"Through its work and subsequent sharing of information, the ACRG hopes to empower researchers, foster innovation, and improve the prognosis and treatment of patients with cancer," said Gary Gilliland, senior vice-president and franchise head of oncology at Merck Research Laboratories, in the press release.

The ACRG initially will focus on the two most common forms of cancer in Asia: lung cancer and gastric cancer. In Asia, as many as 40% of lung-cancer patients exhibit a mutation that is relatively rare in Western patients and results in different responses to some types of agents. Therefore, a different research approach is needed for developing a treatment for these patients.

Meanwhile, gastric cancer, which has a relatively low incidence in the West, has reached near-epidemic proportions in some Asian countries.

During the next two years, the companies will create "one of the most extensive pharmacogenomic cancer databases to date,"according to the press release. The database will include information from approximately 2000 tissue samples from patients with lung and gastric cancer. Ultimately, Lilly will make the data available to public researchers through an open-source concept managed by the company's research site in Singapore.

"The ACRG is about sharing information for the common good," said Kerry Blanchard, vice-president and leader of drug development in China for Lilly, in the press release. "This company will aid researchers around the world to develop diagnostics, tailor current treatments, and develop novel therapies to improve outcomes for affected patients with lung, gastric, and perhaps other forms of cancer."