Collaborating on combos

How Roche is thinking about cancer immunotherapy combinations

As oncologists and drug developers converge on the idea that combination therapies built on a backbone of PD-L1 or PD-1 inhibitors could lead to cures for some cancers, or keep them at bay for years, every large player has set about collecting components for a winning cocktail.

Roche finds the imperative so strong, and the field so fast-moving, that it has decided to breach the walls between its Pharma Research and Early Development (pRED) and Genentech Research and Early Development (gRED) divisions to pursue immunotherapy combinations.

Genentech Inc. and Roche have purposefully maintained independent early research groups since the acquisition of the biotech in 2009. gRED and pRED conduct their own work from discovery through Phase II testing, after which projects come under the Roche pharma umbrella.

The rationale for allowing the units to maintain their independence was and is that it would allow a diversity of approaches. There has been little overlap in the targets or pathways they are pursuing, but even when it does happen, the late stage development group has the option to pick the strongest candidate,

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