Science Market Update

Harvard and Merck Partner for $20M Cancer Therapeutics Research

Posted by Laura Braden on Mon, Apr 18, 2016

AML in bone marrow, via Wikimedia Commons. Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is the most common form of leukemia affecting the blood and bone marrow, and has been responsible for 1.8% of cancer deaths in 2016. Because it is so prevalent, many research teams around the world study this disease in search of new treatment methods. One of these research teams, from Harvard University, has joined up with the pharmaceutical company Merck in a $20 million collaboration to develop new therapeutics for leukemia.

Harvard University researcher Matthew Shair and his laboratory have developed small-molecule therapeutics that, in AML and some other forms of cancer, are able to inhibit the enzymes involved in regulating the transcription of genetic programs that are abnormal in AML and other cancers. These small molecules, which were developed with support from the Blavatnik Biomedical Accelerator at Harvard, have shown favorable pharmaceutical properties.


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Isaac T. Kohlberg, chief technology development officer and senior associate provost at Harvard explained, “University researchers bring a great degree of creativity and innovation to the toughest challenges in human medicine. Professor Shair’s inventive leukemia research, with funding from the Blavatnik Biomedical Accelerator, has reached a stage of development that is unusual in most universities but of great interest to the healthcare industry and ultimately to patients. His work could change the way clinicians treat a major disease.” 

As per their agreement, Merck will pay $20 million up-front to Harvard to take over the development of the product, while collaborating with the Shair lab on investigating the biology of key enzymes. Along with assuming control of development, Merck will also be responsible for the commercialization of any products that result. Harvard will benefit financially from this agreement, both by receiving milestone payments for development and commercialization, but also from royalties on any resulting products.

Dr. Eric Rubin from the Merck Research Laboratories explained, "This recent agreement with the Shair laboratory is rooted in our belief that collaboration is the cornerstone for improving cancer care and driving innovation. It is the partnership among industry and academia that is truly critical to transforming cancer treatment and advancing the care for patients with difficult-to-treat blood cancers, such as acute myeloid leukemia."

Harvard University Medical School in Boston, MA.

Harvard University Medical School is a highly ranked research institution in terms of amount of funding received and research published and produced. In the 2015 fiscal year, the university received more than $182.2 million in funding from the NIH. Some of these well-funded departments at Harvard include:

  1. Internal Medicine/Medicine - $29.4 million
  2. Biology - $29.2 million
  3. Microbiology/Immunology/Virology - $26.6 million
  4. Genetics - $17.8 million
  5. Biochemistry - $15.5 million

Researchers in these departments are eager to obtain the latest innovations in lab equipment. This presents a prime opportunity for lab suppliers looking to market their products to Harvard science professionals. 

Biotechnology Calendar, Inc. has been producing life science trade shows at top research institutions for more than 22 years, and is pleased to be offering the 10th Annual BioResearch Product Faire™ Event in Boston on July 14, 2016, at the Longwood Medical Center adjacent to Harvard Medical School. 

At this event, lab suppliers are able to: 

  • Meet one-on-one with over 200 life science researchers in a professional and intimate environment. 
  • Demonstrate new lab products and technologies to end-users and purchasers.  
  • Answer researchers' questions and schedule follow-up appointments.    
  • Gain market visibility and increase brand awareness. 

To learn more about participating in the BioResearch Product Faire™ Event in Boston, and to read more funding stats for the university, visit the link below: 

Learn More About  Exhibiting in Boston


Tags: Harvard University, Northeast, Leukemia, cancer research, Massachusetts, Boston, BioResearch Product Faire Event, MA, Harvard, longwood, 2016, cancer therapy, Merck

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