Eli Lilly is the second pharma to join hands with Cancer Research UK's Drug Development Office (DDO) in a partnership designed to test different combinations of experimental cancer drugs in early clinical trials. 

The company has joined AstraZeneca in signing up to the Combinations Alliance, set up to bring targeted experimental molecules owned by pharmas into clinical trials testing them alongside other treatment combinations, such as conventional chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

Aside from getting patients faster access to potentially innovative treatments, it is hoped that developing a greater number of multiple therapy combinations will reduce the risk of resistance and thereby boost outcomes.

Specific details were not released, but as part of the Alliance Lilly will provide access to selected molecules for use in trials - managed and run through the Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC) Network, an initiative funded by Cancer Research UK and the UK Health Departments - as well as additional financial support.

Lilly's participation "will provide a huge boost to the UK research community in identifying exciting new combination therapies and will mean that more UK patients will be able to take part in important clinical trials of potential new treatments," noted Ian Walker, Cancer Research UK’s director of strategic partnerships.

From pharma's point of view, the Combinations Alliance can provide access to world class oncology centres in the UK operating as a single network, expand their potential markets for commercial drug development, an efficient framework for industry/academia to collaborate, and the ability to contribute to increasing patient cancer treatment options, according to the ECMC.

AstraZeneca signed up in 2011, and the hope is that, now the model has been tried and tested, other pharmaceutical companies will follow Lilly's suit and also join the Alliance, a spokesperson told PharmaTimes World News.