Broad Institute Joins up with Bayer to Find Targeted Cancer Drugs

9/10/13Follow @benthefidler

The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Cambridge, MA, has scored its latest big industry partnership—this time with Bayer.

Broad, the non-profit biomedical and genomics institute staffed by Harvard and MIT scientists, said today that will team with the German pharma giant’s U.S. arm, Bayer Healthcare, on a five-year pact to discover targeted cancer drugs.

While the two didn’t disclose the financial terms of the deal, here’s how it will work: Broad will lend Bayer its expertise in oncogenomics, or research focused on identifying genes that are implicated in tumor formation. The two will share their drug screening platforms and libraries of compounds, and form joint research and joint steering committees to decide which of them to pursue as potential drug candidates. Bayer and Broad will equally share the rights to any research findings that come out of the collaboration. Bayer will ultimately have an option to an exclusive license to any potential drug candidates that are pursued.

The goal is to find drug candidates that could have the chance to become personalized cancer treatments—those that target a specific genetic abnormality.

“We look forward to working together with our Bayer colleagues to translate scientific discoveries into novel cancer therapeutics,” said Broad president and director Eric Lander, in a statement. “[Broad’s] deep expertise and knowledge in cancer genomics, chemical biology and drug discovery perfectly complement Bayer’s decades of experience in pharmaceutical development.”

This is at least the third big industry deal for Broad over the past year. The institute, staffed by Harvard and MIT scientists, has drawn interest from the likes of AstraZeneca and Roche to help develop drugs. First, in September, AstraZeneca struck a two-year deal with Broad to identify new drugs targeting bacterial and viral infections. Two months later, Broad inked a “multi-year” pact with Roche to try to find new uses for compounds the big drugmaker has that have already flopped in clinical trials.

Ben Fidler is Xconomy's Deputy Biotechnology Editor. You can e-mail him at bfidler@xconomy.com Follow @benthefidler

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