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 Post subject: Profiting at all cost
PostPosted: Sat Dec 19, 2015 5:37 pm 
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Massive cancer-drug deal one of UBC's biggest to date

Researcher Artem Cherkasov displays a computer model simulation used to develop a new treatment for drug-resistant prostate cancer at the Vancouver Prostate Centre . 'Using computer simulations, we sometimes go through 50 million compounds to find a molecule that will seat in a precise and accurate way,' he says.

A promising new treatment for drug-resistant prostate cancer developed by scientists at the University of B.C. has been licensed by the pharmaceutical giant Roche for more than $140 million, the university's richest intellectual property deal in its history.
Researchers Paul Rennie and Artem Cherkasov of the Vancouver Prostate Centre designed the drug to treat prostate cancers that mutate, rendering conventional treatments useless. The Vancouver Prostate Centre is a national Centre for Excellence for Commercialization and Research hosted by UBC and the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute.
Under the terms of the agreement with Roche, UBC and VCHRI receive an upfront payment and up to $141.7 million US in milestone payments if the drug moves through pre-clinical and clinical trials, regulatory approval and meets sales targets, and then royalties thereafter.
"As much as that sounds -- and it is a lot -- the real money is in the royalties, which could exceed $140 million by quite a bit," said Brad
Wheeler, technology transfer manager at the University-Industry Liaison Office and lead negotiator on the Roche licence.
The scientists will share 50 per cent of the net revenue from the agreement and Roche will separately cover the costs of development, testing and commercialization.
UBC currently generates about $7 million a year from 300 active licences, money that is split between the university, its researchers and partner institutions.
"This licence could substantially increase that figure," said Wheeler. "This deal is exceptionally big."
Existing treatments for advanced prostate cancer may only be effective for a matter of months, merely delaying the course of the disease, said Rennie. Once conventional treatments fail, cancer can spread quickly throughout the body and is virtually incurable.
Prostate cancer is the most prevalent and potentially lethal cancer affecting men, with 24,000 new cases leading to more than 4,000 deaths per year, according to the Canadian Cancer Society.
"The major problem with our current forms of treatment is that the androgen receptor (targeted by the drug) becomes mutated and resistant," said Rennie.
"Tumours are pretty much addicted to the androgen and will do what they have to [in order] to get around whatever drug you use to block it."
The new drug candidate outsmarts the cancer by attacking the same receptor that promotes tumour growth, but to a location that binds to a very specific bit of DNA. Any change or damage to the site through mutation would render it useless, so its structure is stable, offering hope that a drug designed to exploit it could be effective for a long time.
The researchers found the three-dimensional shape of their target location in previous research and set about looking for a molecule that would shut it down.
"Drugs and proteins work like a key in a lock, so we have to find the perfect key for the existing lock," said Cherkasov. "Using computer simulations, we sometimes go through 50 million compounds to find a molecule that will seat in a precise and accurate way."
Cherkasov's powerful search technique produced about 200 candidate molecules, which they winnowed down to just a handful that appeared to be promising drugs. "When (Cherkasov) came to us, this technology was like a hammer looking for a nail," said Rennie. "I knew just where to put the nail."
Their lead compound works against tumours in animals, but still requires some structural "tweaking," which is work Rennie and Cherkasov will do in partnership with Roche.
Bringing a fully realized drug to market can easily cost $1 billion and take years to complete.
"At the end of the day, we'd like to have a simple pill to take once a day for prostate cancer patients," said Cherkasov.

The Vancouver Sun, December 15, 2015

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Oh, grand! Now all a prostate-cancer infested guy needs is the many thousands of dollars per life-saving dose in order to be found worthy of the newly-discovered formula’s disease-eliminating grace; and this fact is particularly so in Canada which grants the mega-pharmaceuticals 20 years of patent protection against any generic brands offering the same saviour chemical at a small fraction of Roche’s price. But like the fundamental Libertarian socio-economic-Darwinism ideology dictates: Survival of the richest and the fully, well employed.


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