12:00 AM
 | 
Nov 11, 2013
 |  BioCentury  |  Strategy

New York translation

Roche's new translational center will let pRED conduct early POC studies

Now headquartered at the newly opened Translational Clinical Research Center in New York, Roche's Pharma Research & Early Development organization has undergone another retooling intended to increase its efficiency and productivity. The center will enable pRED to access local expertise and patient populations for early human proof-of-concept studies.

On Oct. 1, Roche inaugurated the 250-person Translational Clinical Research Center (TCRC), which will serve as the headquarters for the pharma's clinical operations in the U.S., according to John Reed, the new head of pRED.

While he does not plan to undertake a major restructuring, late last month Reed implemented changes that included reorganizing pRED's four discovery and translational areas (DTAs) into three: oncology, infectious diseases and CNS/ophthalmology/rare diseases.

Reed also re-merged large and small molecule research into a single therapeutic modality function.

He also created the Academic Relations and Collaborations (ARC) taskforce, which will be headquartered at TCRC and manage the pharma's outreach to academic researchers, small companies and clinicians worldwide.

Reed also is interim head of the oncology DTA and a member of Roche's corporate executive committee.

In January, he stepped down as head of Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, where he is still an adjunct professor at the institute's NCI-designated cancer center.

Ringing the changes

According to Reed, the reshuffling of pRED resulted from his seven-month evaluation of its pipeline.

Roche launched pRED in 2010 as one of its autonomous research centers, alongside Genentech Research & Early Development (gRED) at its Genentech Inc. unit. Each group is given an annual budget and a target for the number of projects it is expected to pass into Phase III development, and each is supported by its own business development and licensing organizations (see BioCentury, April 12, 2010).

pRED originally was organized into five DTAs: oncology, virology, cardiovascular/ metabolism, inflammation and CNS. In 2012, Roche announced it would close its underperforming research campus in Nutley, N.J. The closure eliminated the inflammation DTA and halted pRED's small molecule oncology discovery research - two areas where programs from gRED had a better track record in the clinic (see BioCentury, July 16, 2012).

In April, then-acting head of pRED Mark Burgess handed over the reins to Reed.

As part of last month's announcements, Reed said pRED's cardiovascular and metabolism research would be phased out.

"These have always been tough areas for us," as illustrated by the pharma's decision to discontinue clinical development of aleglitazar, Reed told BioCentury. "We decided we shouldn't go it alone in this area and so we are looking for partners to take on our cardiovascular and metabolism assets."

In July, Roche discontinued development of aleglitazar after an independent DSMB recommended early stoppage of a Phase III trial of the dual peroxisome proliferation activated receptor (PPAR) alpha and gamma agonist to treat Type II diabetes due to "safety signals and lack of efficacy."

pRED will continue expanding its research in ophthalmology, which was added to the cardiovascular/metabolism DTA this year.

"We are building on our anti-VEGF technology to...

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