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Merck chooses START for global anti-cancer effort
June 8, 2010

San Antonio Business Journal

The START Center in San Antonio has become one of 15 cancer research sites worldwide selected by Merck & Co. Inc. to become part of the Merck Oncology Collaborative Trials Network.

Merck made the announcement last week at the 2010 American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting. The network will focus on the development of Merck drug and vaccine candidates being investigated for the prevention and treatment of cancer. The 15 organizations will work to accelerate the development of new cancer treatments.

Cancer is a diverse group of diseases that accounts for 7.4 million deaths worldwide each year. The research sites will design and implement clinical trials of Merck’s investigational oncology drug products. The network will enroll some 1,200 patients in 30 to 40 clinical trials each year.

START (South Texas Accelerated Research Therapeutics) in San Antonio operates the world’s largest Phase 1 clinical trial program for anti-cancer drugs.

“Despite recent advances, there remains an urgent need for effective treatments for cancer, and the pace of traditional drug development often lags far behind the latest science,” says Malcolm Moore M.D., head of Medical and Hematological Oncology at Princess Margaret Hospital and a scientist at the Ontario Cancer Institute.

In the United States, only five organizations are participating in the Merck Oncology Collaborative Trials Networks. Besides START in San Antonio, the other four cancer sites are the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center; the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston; Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York; and the University of California-San Francisco Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The Merck Oncology Collaborative Trials Network also includes research partners from Brazil, Canada, France, Israel, South Korea, The Netherlands, Norway and Taiwan.

Whitehouse Station, N.J.-based Merck (NYSE: MRK) is a global developer of medicines, vaccines, therapies and consumer and animal products. The company markets products in 140 countries.

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