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Sponsored content by The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Within The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center lies a passionate team devoted to bringing new, life-saving medicines to patients quickly, safely, and effectively. These clinicians, researchers, and drug developers make up the Therapeutics Discovery division: a drug discovery engine created within MD Anderson to answer the unmet needs of patients with cancer.

By virtue of their location within the nation’s leading cancer hospital, this team’s approach to drug development is unlike any other. They work with the bench at the bedside — seamlessly collaborating with clinical researchers and basic scientists at MD Anderson, leveraging these interactions to develop new therapies driven by clinical insights.

Their unparalleled proximity to patients and clinical expertise give the team the opportunity to drive therapeutic programs to answer specific medical needs. Likewise, the integration within MD Anderson also enables them to bring new therapies from concept to clinical trials, all under one roof.

Furthermore, the team is able to learn directly from physicians leading clinical trials to understand how patients undergoing treatment are responding and what areas need to be addressed to ultimately improve outcomes.

That model of patient-driven drug discovery has proven effective thus far, with multiple small-molecules, immune- and cell-based therapies currently in clinical trials and more progressing through its pipeline.

Earlier this year, a new small-molecule inhibitor of cancer metabolism moved into Phase I clinical trials. Developed in collaboration with Ipsen Biopharmaceuticals, IPN-60090 targets glutaminase (GLS1), an important enzyme for metabolic energy production. The compound was first discovered and developed by Therapeutics Discovery researchers who focus on translating clinical observations into therapeutics to be evaluated in Phase I studies.

Therapeutics Discovery also advanced a first-in-class therapeutic antibody into Phase I trials for patients with certain leukemias. The antibody, known as h8F4, is a T cell receptor (TCR)-like antibody that can kill leukemia cells by targeting PR1, a peptide found through extensive research to be selectively expressed on the surface of leukemia cells.

Additionally, the team is helping to advance the next generation of adoptive cellular therapies developed by MD Anderson researchers and in partnership with Takeda. Engineered natural killer (NK) cells have the potential to improve on many of the challenges presented by current chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapies. MD Anderson clinicians and researchers have shown CAR NK-cell therapies have promising clinical effectiveness with minimal toxicities.

Therapeutics Discovery is working to improve survivorship and quality of life as well, by developing therapies to counteract neurocognitive conditions caused by chemotherapy, including “chemobrain” and peripheral neuropathy. MD Anderson partnered with Accelerator Life Science Partners to launch Magnolia Neurosciences to accelerate small-molecules developed by Therapeutics Discovery, and their lead candidate is progressing toward clinical trials.

Drug discovery and development remains a challenging process, but Therapeutics Discovery is striving to overcome traditional obstacles through its unique approach. Multidisciplinary collaboration is the key to success, and patients’ survival is the bottom line.

For more information about MD Anderson’s Therapeutics Discovery team, visit