Curie-Cancer and Servier have announced that they have renewed their partnership with the aim of identifying therapeutic targets for treating ‘triple negative’ breast cancers. The partnership will continue for a further three years.
‘Triple negative’ breast cancers account for around 15 per cent of breast cancer cases. They are particularly aggressive and can be unresponsive to the current chemotherapy regimens; hence the urgent need to find new therapies.
Triple negative breast cancers do not express estrogen or progesterone receptors (in which case they could be treated with hormone therapy), or Her-2 receptors (which would allow for targeted therapies that bind to Her-2 receptors).
The partners will share the intellectual property resulting from this work.
Encouraging initial results
As early as 2005, the Institut Curie and Servier decided to pool their expertise to identify potential therapeutic targets specific to triple negative breast cancers, using the Institut Curie's extensive collection of breast cancer samples. The goal of the initial partnership was to identify molecules that act on these targets, in order to develop medicinal products to improve treatment for patients who do not respond to the current therapies available.
The work undertaken over the last few years has involved many doctors and researchers: highly specialized biologists, biochemists, geneticists and bioinformaticians from both the Institut Curie and Servier. They have discovered a number of very promising leads, identifying a therapeutic target, kinase TTK/MPS1, an enzyme involved in cell cycle regulation. A medicinal product that acts on this target is already in preclinical development.
These results reflect a complementary knowledge base between staff at the Institut Curie and at Servier. They could not have been achieved by either partner alone.
Complementary skill sets at Curie-Cancer and Servier
“Cancer is a key focus of research for Servier,” said Emmanuel Canet, president of R&D at Servier, “Servier's research strategy includes developing research partnerships with the leading academic teams. Our long-term partnership with the Institut Curie symbolizes our ability to work effectively and cohesively with the best teams in the world.”
“The key driver for Servier has always been research. The company allocates over 25 per cent of its turnover to this activity, making it one of the leading international pharmaceutical laboratories,” said Pascal Touchon, Servier's director of scientific collaboration. “Servier is delighted with the Institut Curie partnership, which fulfills our primary mission of discovering particularly innovative medicinal products that address an unmet medical need and making them available to patients. Our partnership with the Institut Curie has already helped us to identify a potential therapeutic target, kinase TTK/MPS1, an enzyme involved in cell cycle regulation.”
“Our decision to extend the partnership for a further three years was inspired by these highly encouraging results, the need to look at the other results obtained in more depth and the desire to explore other potential leads,” said Emmanuel Canet.
Sergio Roman-Roman, director of translational research at the Institut Curie, said: “The efforts co-ordinated by Thierry Dubois have involved many doctors and researchers with various specialisms, including our own team of bioinformatics experts. It is important to reiterate that this partnership is underpinned by a highly constructive approach, especially with regard to the quality of interaction between our teams of staff.”
“The Institut Curie is certainly pleased with the terms of this long-term partnership, where there is a genuine division of labor. The intellectual property is also evenly split, meaning that if the work in hand results in an innovative medicinal product, the Institut Curie will receive royalties that it can reinvest in new research,” said Damien Salauze, director of Curie-Cancer.
Salauze continued, “The opportunity to help a local manufacturer to expand operations in its area of expertise is an additional source of satisfaction for the Institut Curie. This is another example of the values enshrined in the Institut Carnot label, which we were awarded in 2011 in recognition of our commitment to providing practical solutions for industry and ultimately, for patients."