The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Amgen today announced two multi-year collaboration agreements aimed at accelerating development of a variety of Amgen's early-stage oncology therapies for patients with leukemia, myelodysplastic syndromes, multiple myeloma, small-cell lung cancer, and other non-lung cancers with small-cell histologies. The agreements combine Amgen therapies nearing clinical development or those that have already begun the process with MD Anderson's translational medicine capabilities.
The collaborations will focus on Amgen's bispecific T cell engager (BiTE®), chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell and small molecule programs. Amgen is advancing both types of T cell therapies against different targets and, in some cases, the same target. BiTE® antibody constructs and CAR T cell therapies differ in their approach, though they share the same goal - activating a patient's immune system to eradicate cancer. BiTE® antibody constructs work by bridging T cells to tumor cells, enabling them to attack tumor cells, while CAR T cell therapies reengineer a patient's own T cells to recognize tumor-specific antigens, inciting an immune system attack against cancer cells.
"The field of immuno-oncology is rapidly evolving and combining resources from both organizations could be important in answering key scientific questions," said Patrick Hwu, M.D., division head of Cancer Medicine at MD Anderson. "The collaboration allows MD Anderson to study up to 16 different oncology treatments which we hope will lead to rapid development and advancement of important therapies into clinical practice."
The five-year collaboration will begin with Phase 1 clinical studies for BiTE® antibody constructs and CAR T cell therapies for multiple myeloma and small cell lung cancer. The second agreement spans four years and will study BiTE® antibody constructs, CAR T and small molecule treatments in leukemia and myelodysplastic syndromes. The collaboration includes multi-institutional pre-clinical and clinical trials, some of which will be led by MD Anderson, which may offer the potential for identifying new biomarkers.
"These agreements build on a long history of collaboration between Amgen and MD Anderson, including a number of different efforts which helped to enable the advancement and regulatory approval of Amgen's first bispecific T cell engager," said David M. Reese, M.D., senior vice president of Translational Sciences and Oncology at Amgen. "We are pleased to work with MD Anderson to accelerate the translation of several of our early-stage oncology programs from the laboratory to the clinic."