INGELHEIM, Germany--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Boehringer Ingelheim announced today that it has established a research alliance with Vanderbilt University and the cancer drug discovery laboratory of Professor Stephen W. Fesik, Ph.D., the Orrin H. Ingram, II Chair in Cancer Research and Professor of Biochemistry, Pharmacology, and Chemistry. The aim of the new collaboration is the research and development of small molecule inhibitors of oncogenic Ras for the treatment of cancer. Ras is the most frequently mutated oncogene known in cancer with K-Ras being the most commonly mutated form occurring in pancreas, colon, biliary tract and lung adenocarcinomas. Mutations in the Ras family (comprised of H-Ras, N-Ras and K-Ras) are very common, and found in 20 to 30 percent of all human tumors. Ras has been a particularly difficult protein to target since its discovery in human cancers more than 30 years ago.
Under the terms of the agreement, the research capabilities of Vanderbilt University and Boehringer Ingelheim will be brought together in a multi-year research programme focusing on the development of small molecule inhibitors of Ras. Further details of the agreement are not disclosed.
“We are looking forward to working together with Professor Fesik and his team at Vanderbilt University to discover new medicines for the Ras protein family,” said Michel Pairet, M.D., Senior Corporate Vice President of Research and Non-clinical Development at Boehringer Ingelheim. “We believe that our combined strengths and philosophies in drug discovery will go a long way in addressing what has up to now been a very difficult drug target.”
“Dr. Fesik is a pioneer in the discovery of small molecules that bind to and inhibit challenging drug target proteins. The combination of his lab’s novel techniques and the resources and expertise of Boehringer Ingelheim will result in a powerful drug discovery team,” said Lawrence J. Marnett, Ph.D., the Mary Geddes Stahlman Professor of Cancer Research, University Professor of Biochemistry and Chemistry, and newly appointed associate vice chancellor for Research for the Vanderbilt University Medical Center.