NEW YORK – June 21, 2016 – Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) announced today the first Request For Proposals (RFP) under SU2C Catalyst™, a program working with industry to support clinical trials and translational research. Funded by SU2C Catalyst Founding Collaborator Merck, known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, the grants will support investigation of new uses of the company’s anti-PD-1 therapy, Keytruda® (pembrolizumab), alone or in combination with other agents from Merck or other companies.
An RFP is available at https://proposalcentral.altum.com/. Proposals for SU2C Catalyst Research Grants (Merck projects) must be submitted to the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), SU2C’s Scientific Partner, by noon ET Wednesday, July 20, 2016.
SU2C Catalyst is a new collaborative program intended to leverage all facets of the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, diagnostic, and devices industries to bring new treatments to patients as rapidly as possible. The Merck support for SU2C Catalyst is expected to enable as many as four projects with funding in the range of $1 million to $3 million each. True to SU2C’s collaborative research model, multi-investigator, multi-institutional projects are required.
Keytruda® (pembrolizumab) is a programmed death receptor-1 (PD-1)-blocking antibody that is indicated in the U.S. for the treatment of patients with unresectable or metastatic melanoma. Keytruda is also approved for the treatment of patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose tumors express PD-L1 as determined by a U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved test with disease progression on or after platinum-containing chemotherapy.
The Keytruda clinical research program already includes more than 270 clinical trials in more than 30 tumor types, including more than 100 trials that combine Keytruda with other cancer treatments, according to Merck. More than 30 registration-enabling trials evaluating Keytruda as a single agent or in combination with other therapies are currently enrolling patients with bladder cancer, breast cancer, colorectal cancer, esophageal cancer, gastric cancer, head and neck cancers, Hodgkin lymphoma, melanoma, multiple myeloma, NSCLC, and other tumors, with further trials being planned for other cancers.
“SU2C Catalyst takes a structured and prioritized approach to early-phase clinical studies or translational research in order to accelerate the time to get new treatments to patients and bring together all the key players in a collaborative and strategic manner,” said Raymond DuBois, MD, PhD, dean of the College of Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, and chair of the SU2C Catalyst-Merck Subcommittee.
“Through Catalyst, we look forward to enabling innovative translational and clinical research,” said David Kaufman, MD, PhD, executive director, Oncology Clinical Research, Merck Research Laboratories. “SU2C’s collaborative research model aligns with Merck’s deep commitment to academic-industry partnership, and as the Founding Collaborator, we remain committed to helping the community bring new hope to people with cancer.”
The project must include pembrolizumab alone or in combination with other compounds, biologics, diagnostics, or devices intended as therapeutic interventions, and/or methods for biomarker identification for any cancer. The project is not limited to Merck products, however. If a product is proposed for use that is marketed or is under development by another company, SU2C will facilitate the necessary collaborative agreements.
Each SU2C-Catalyst project will be carried out by a collaborative team of expert investigators. The project must be designed to accelerate the clinical use of therapeutic agents or methods, leading to patient involvement within the three-year timeframe of the grant, and to deliver near-term patient benefit. The ideas should be based on perceived opportunities for success as well as high-priority areas with a critical need for rapid progress beyond current medical care. An emphasis on early phase, signal-finding clinical trials is encouraged and must be planned so that the final patient is enrolled by the end of the grant.
SU2C recently announced SU2C Catalyst with Merck as the Founding Collaborator. Under SU2C Catalyst, companies will provide funds to support collaborative research studies using products the companies will also provide, such as other compounds that they are developing or approved agents that can be investigated for other uses.
SU2C Catalyst will be overseen by an executive committee chaired by Nobel Laureate Phillip A. Sharp, PhD, chair of the SU2C Scientific Advisory Committee and institute professor at the Koch Institute for Integrated Cancer Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In addition to DuBois as chair, the SU2C Catalyst Merck Subcommittee will include three additional academic scientists, named by SU2C in consultation with the AACR, and three pharmaceutical industry members named by Merck. The SU2C-Catalyst Merck Subcommittee will review submitted grant proposals and make recommendations to the SU2C Catalyst Executive Committee. The program will be administered by the AACR.
About the Stand Up To Cancer Initiative
Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) raises funds to accelerate the pace of research to get new therapies to patients quickly and save lives now. SU2C, a program of the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF), a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, was established in 2008 by film and media leaders who utilize the industry’s resources to engage the public in supporting a new, collaborative model of cancer research, and to increase awareness about cancer prevention as well as progress being made in the fight against the disease. As SU2C’s scientific partner, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) and a Scientific Advisory Committee led by Nobel Laureate Phillip A. Sharp, PhD, conduct rigorous, competitive review processes to identify the best research proposals to recommend for funding, oversee grants administration, and provide expert review of research progress.
About the American Association for Cancer Research
Founded in 1907, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is the world’s first and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research and its mission to prevent and cure cancer. AACR membership includes more than 36,000 laboratory, translational, and clinical researchers; population scientists; other health care professionals; and patient advocates residing in 107 countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise of the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, biology, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer by annually convening more than 30 conferences and educational workshops, the largest of which is the AACR Annual Meeting with nearly 19,500 attendees. In addition, the AACR publishes eight prestigious, peer-reviewed scientific journals and a magazine for cancer survivors, patients, and their caregivers. The AACR funds meritorious research directly as well as in cooperation with numerous cancer organizations. As the Scientific Partner of Stand Up To Cancer, the AACR provides expert peer review, grants administration, and scientific oversight of team science and individual investigator grants in cancer research that have the potential for near-term patient benefit. The AACR actively communicates with legislators and other policymakers about the value of cancer research and related biomedical science in saving lives from cancer. For more information about the AACR, visit www.AACR.org.