Lilly, Merck and Pfizer join forces to fight cancers

February 26, 2010
Stephanie Sutton

Stephanie Sutton was an assistant editor at Pharmaceutical Technology Europe.

Pharmaceutical Technology Europe

Eli Lilly, Merck Sharp & Dohme and Pfizer have joined together to form the Asian Cancer Research Group (ACRG), a not-for-profit company aimed at accelerating research and improving treatment for patients affected with the most commonly diagnosed cancers in Asia.

Eli Lilly, Merck Sharp & Dohme and Pfizer have joined together to form the Asian Cancer Research Group (ACRG), a not-for-profit company 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," Gary Gilliland, Senior Vice President and Franchise Head, Oncology, at Merck Research Laboratories, said in the press release.

The ACRG will initially focus on the two most common forms of cancer in Asia: lung cancer and gastric cancer. In Asia, up to 40% of lung cancer patients demonstrate 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 2 years, the companies will create what is described by the press release as "one of the most extensive pharmacogenomic cancer databases to date". The database will comprise information from approximately 2000 tissue samples, which will come 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."

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