MD Anderson establishes new $50M+ biotech fund to choose the next promising cancer therapies
Researchers at MD Anderson have a new partner to help them get early-stage programs into the clinic.
In conjunction with The Focus Fund, MD Anderson is launching the Cancer Focus Fund to advance investigational cancer therapies from late preclinical development through Phase I and Phase Ib/II clinical trials. The fund will start off with more than $50 million of initial capital.
“Without appropriate support, we know that some therapies with great potential may be delayed, may not be developed properly in the clinical setting or may never make it into clinical studies,” MD Anderson senior VP Ferran Prat said in a statement. “Through investment from the Cancer Focus Fund and the support of MD Anderson, we hope to advance worthwhile new treatments past the traditional hurdles in the drug development process.”
Along with the new cash, investors included the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, Rice University Endowment, LSU Health Shreveport Foundation, Ochsner Health and other private investors.
The partnership will establish two committees that will jointly oversee the programs, one made up of MD Anderson researchers and physicians and the other comprising experienced biotech investors. MD Anderson’s side will evaluate and choose which potential treatments could be selected for the fund, while the investment committee makes final decisions based on the recommendations.
MD Anderson will also be responsible for designing and hosting clinical studies for the therapies that receive IND approval. Ochsner Health and LSU Health Shreveport will serve as additional trial sites so patients can join studies where deemed appropriate.
Normally known for collaborating with biotechs and pharma companies to conduct research into cancer therapies, as well as being one of the world’s leading cancer centers, MD Anderson will now be choosing the therapies itself. One of the institution’s more recent partnerships came with Sanofi, teaming up in a five-year deal to advance the French pharma’s oncologic drug cocktails.
The Houston clinic also announced last week it will work with Allogene in another five-year partnership, aiming to study the company’s CAR-T therapies in hematologic and solid tumors in both preclinical and clinical programs.
Correction: A previous version of this story identified a source of the funding as Neuberger Berman, a global investment management firm. The fund has no association with the firm.