South Texas Accelerated Research Therapeutics (START) has enrolled its first patient in a phase 1 clinical trial of a combination anticancer regimen made up of two investigational compounds.
The two drugs are being developed by Merck & Co. Inc. and AstraZeneca. The two pharmaceutical companies announced in June 2009 that they would collaborate on this project.
The START Center for Cancer Care in San Antonio was chosen as the first phase 1 center to test the drug combination. START specializes in conducting Phase 1 clinical trials for oncology drugs.
Preclinical evidence showed that the two compounds (MK-2206 and AZD6244) could enhance their anticancer properties.
The agreement between Merck and AstraZeneca is significant, say START officials, because it involves two major pharmaceutical companies collaborating at an early stage of drug development.
This is the beginning of the collaboration between Merck and AZ that began last summer.
Merck's MK-2206 is an AKT inhibitor we originally discussed last year at ASCO (see http://www.pharmastrategyblog.com/2009/05/sanofiaventis-and-exelixis-agree-licensing-deal.html), while AstraZeneca's AZD6244 is a MEK inhibitor that has also been shown to target RAS and BRAF.
Anthony Tolcher's group at the START center in San Antonio are running the early trials, so it will be interesting to see what comes of the collaboration.