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Boehringer Ingelheim. (3/13/18). "Press Release: Boehringer Ingelheim and Vanderbilt University Expand Partnership to Develop Novel Treatment Approaches for Cancer". Ingelheim & Nashville, TN.

Organisations Organisation Boehringer Ingelheim (Group)
  Organisation 2 Vanderbilt University
Products Product cancer drug
  Product 2 drug discovery
Index term Index term Boehringer–Vanderbilt Univ: MCL1 inhibitors, 201803– collab expansion RnD of MCL1 inhibitors for cancer
Persons Person Malin, Reinhard (Boehringer Ingelheim 201505 Director Media + PR)
  Person 2 Fesik, Stephen W. (Vanderbilt Univ 200905– Professor before Abbott divisonal VP Cancer Research)

> Boehringer Ingelheim and Vanderbilt University collaborate to develop novel anti-cancer drugs that inhibit the MCL1 (myeloid cell leukemia 1) protein

> There are no existing therapies targeting MCL1, which is highly prevalent in many difficult to treat cancers

> This is the third collaboration between Boehringer Ingelheim and Vanderbilt University

Boehringer Ingelheim and Vanderbilt University today announced the expansion of their successful existing collaboration to develop novel anti-cancer compounds.

The expanded research partnership will focus on the discovery and development of new chemical therapeutics targeting the pro-survival protein MCL1 as a potential therapy against MCL1 dependent cancers. This is the third collaboration between Boehringer Ingelheim and Vanderbilt University to pursue discoveries made in the laboratory of Stephen W. Fesik, Ph.D., at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

“Boehringer Ingelheim and Vanderbilt University have the expertise and are jointly focused on discovering breakthrough medicines against the cancer causing proteins KRAS, SOS and now, MCL1,” said Darryl McConnell, Ph.D., Vice President and Research Site Head, Boehringer Ingelheim, Austria. “Together, we are committed to driving scientific research and development forward to help patients win the fight against cancer.”

“MCL1 is one of the top ten overexpressed genes in human cancer where it plays a role as a survival factor,” said Lawrence J. Marnett, Ph.D., Dean of Basic Sciences in the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

“It is a great target for therapy but candidate drugs need to disrupt high affinity protein-protein interactions, which is very challenging,” Marnett said. “The Fesik laboratory has made impressive strides in developing such compounds and it is exciting to see them advanced toward clinical development through the partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim.”

MCL1, when overexpressed, can prevent cancer cells from undergoing programmed cell death (also known as apoptosis). This necessitates the discovery of a molecule that binds extremely tightly and selectively to MCL1 in order to sufficiently induce on-target, mechanism-based cancer cell death.

“Boehringer Ingelheim has an outstanding oncology drug discovery infrastructure that brings various research and development groups together to tackle challenging cancer targets,” said Fesik, Professor of Biochemistry, Pharmacology, and Chemistry at Vanderbilt. “In combination with our multidisciplinary team of structural biologists, medicinal chemists and cell biologists, we will work to search for anti-cancer compounds that inhibit MCL1 in order to tackle this complex area of unmet medical need.”

Boehringer Ingelheim is steadfast in its partnership with Vanderbilt University and is deeply committed to delivering breakthrough, first-in-class treatments to help cancer patients everywhere, despite the challenges that may present themselves. This agreement between Boehringer Ingelheim and Vanderbilt University includes undisclosed upfront and milestone payments, with the ambition of delivering a new cancer drug to market as quickly as possible.

About Boehringer Ingelheim in Oncology

Cancer takes. Takes away loved ones, time and untapped potential. At Boehringer Ingelheim we are providing new hope for patients by taking cancer on. We are collaborating with the oncology community to deliver scientific breakthroughs to transform the lives of patients. Our primary focus is in lung and gastrointestinal cancers, with the goal of delivering breakthrough, first-in-class treatments that can help win the fight against cancer. Our commitment to innovation has resulted in pioneering treatments for lung cancer and we are advancing a unique pipeline of cancer cell directed agents, immune oncology therapies and intelligent combination approaches to help combat many cancers.

Boehringer Ingelheim

Innovative medicines for people and animals have for more than 130 years been what the research-driven pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim stands for. Boehringer Ingelheim is one of the pharmaceutical industry’s top 20 companies and to this day remains family-owned. Day by day, some 50,000 employees create value through innovation for the three business areas human pharmaceuticals, animal health and biopharmaceutical contract manufacturing. In 2016, Boehringer Ingelheim achieved net sales of around 15.9 billion euros. With more than three billion euros, R&D expenditure corresponds to 19.6 percent of net sales.

Social responsibility comes naturally to Boehringer Ingelheim. That is why the company is involved in social projects such as the “Making More Health” initiative. Boehringer Ingelheim also actively promotes workforce diversity and benefits from its employees’ different experiences and skills. Furthermore, the focus is on environmental protection and sustainability in everything the company does.

More information about Boehringer Ingelheim can be found on or in our annual report:

About Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University, located in Nashville, Tenn., is a private research university offering a full range of undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees.

About Fesik laboratory

Stephen W. Fesik, PhD, is a leader in the discovery and development of compounds that target cancer-promoting proteins using fragment-based approaches and structure-based design. Drug discovery in the Fesik laboratory (link is external) is a team effort that includes structural biologists, medicinal chemists and cell biologists. In addition to institutional support from Vanderbilt University, the Fesik laboratory receives funding through the National Cancer Institute Experimental Therapeutics Program.

For more information, please visit or (link is external).

Media Contacts:

Dr. Reinhard Malin
Head of Communications Innovation Unit
Boehringer Ingelheim Corporate Center GmbH
Media + PR
P: +49 6132 77-90815 :: M: + 49 151 150 20 690

Linda Ruckel
Associate Director, Media and Corporate Reputation
Boehringer Ingelheim U.S.
Media + PR
P: 203-791-6672

Liz Entman
Public Affairs Officer
Vanderbilt University
Media + PR
P: 615-322-6397

Record changed: 2023-06-05


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