Fighting childhood cancer

The need for Public-Private Partnership

By Dr Louis Stancato, Senior Research Advisor, Oncology TME & Translational Research, Eli Lilly & Company 

Lou Stancato

Back in June, LillyPadEU reported on the need for speed in discovering and developing cancer medicines. Nowhere is this urgency more acute than in childhood cancer. Cancer remains the leading cause of disease-related death in children. Expediting the development of more precise and efficacious medicines for children is therefore crucial.

This is why Lilly initiated a new joint public-private partnership project under Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) 2 called ‘Innovative Therapies for Children with Cancer Paediatric Preclinical Proof-of-concept Platform’ (ITCC-P4). Through the ITCC-P4 we aim to have – in the near future - a testing platform that rivals those available for adult tumours and should pave the way for identifying promising clinical trial candidate medicines in paediatric cancer.

The project, which kicked off in January 2017, will set up a pre-clinical testing platform for high-risk pediatric cancers. The goal is to identify promising drugs for testing in paediatric cancers. It will also seek to identify predictive biomarkers – these can help improve patient outcomes - by fully characterizing a patient’s tumor and identifying which patients will respond to a drug.

IMI is the ideal platform to address this need, bringing together public and private partners with multi-disciplinary expertise to make a difference in people’s lives. The ITCC-P4 project is co-led by Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum (DKFZ) - the German Cancer Research Center and Lilly. The partnership includes many distinguished academic institutions from eight European countries, several small and medium-sized enterprises and six member companies of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA).

This type of initiative and investment is part of Lilly’s ongoing support for IMI. Since 2008, Lilly has participated in 49 IMI projects, leading or co-leading on ten, and contributing 43 million Euros in-kind to IMI. This specific project is a continuation of our commitment to IMI, looking at the potential to save the lives of children stricken with cancer. The output from this public-private partnership project can’t come soon enough.