Friday AM October 31st, 2008

The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center has renewed a collaboration with a pharmaceutical company to help speed up access to new cancer drugs. Ed Mayberry reports.

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The collaboration with AstraZeneca helps further interactions between physicians and scientists, combining resources and expertise to accelerate development of new treatments.  The Cancer Center’s Dr. Robert Bast says traditionally companies will develop a drug before working with clinical trials.

“Very often there can be three to six months delay between the time that the Food & Drug Administration says we can test the drug and the time the first patient is entered on a trial.  We’ve actually managed to cut that length of time by at least three months here.”

Dr. Bast says new drugs can take as long as 12 years to reach the market, from the time the target is identified through testing in animals and then patients. This isn’t the only alliance that M.D. Anderson has with drug firms.

“But over the last three years we’ve established strategic alliances with three other companies.  The goal here is to narrow the chasm between pharmaceutical companies and academic institutions like M.D. Anderson in ways that benefit our patients.”

Dr. Bast says AstraZeneca has a goal of cutting the development time for a new drug from 12 years to seven. 

Ed Mayberry, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.

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