Cancer Research UK’s Drug Development Office (DDO) today announced that Eli Lilly and Company will join its Combinations Alliance to help discover new medicines for cancer therapy trials.

The Combinations Alliance aims to bring targeted experimental molecules, owned by pharmaceutical companies, to clinical trials so patients can get potential new cancer treatments sooner. The trials will test these new therapies alongside other treatment combinations, such as conventional chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

A combination of multiple therapies may lessen the chance of patients developing resistance to any individual treatment. This is because different types of therapies attack the faults in cancer cells at different points.

The trials will be managed and run through the Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC) Network, an initiative funded by Cancer Research UK and the UK Health Departments, at hospitals across the UK with support from Cancer Research UK’s DDO. Lilly will provide access to selected molecules to be trialled through the Combinations Alliance as well as additional financial support.

Dr Ian Walker, Cancer Research UK’s director of strategic partnerships, said: “We’re delighted to be collaborating with Lilly. This latest addition to the initiative 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.

“We’re continuing to look for additional parties who are interested in collaborating with us to enable us to offer a wider range of potential treatment options to patients in the future and to help us beat cancer sooner.”

Richard Gaynor, M.D., Vice President, Oncology Product Development and Medical Affairs at Lilly, said: “Our priority is to speed innovation that will improve outcomes for individual patients facing cancer and we are committed to developing novel treatment approaches. We are delighted to join the Combinations Alliance to help improve patient access to cancer combination treatment trials here in the UK.”

Jo Reynolds, Cancer Research UK’s director of centres, said: “It’s incredibly exciting to have the opportunity to run trials of these new therapies, which could potentially be used to treat a range of different cancers.

“The ECMC network brings together cancer doctors, nurses and scientists to make it easier to run clinical trials of new tailored treatments – and it is thanks to the generosity and time of patients that it is possible to develop these new approaches which could benefit thousands of people in the future.”


For media enquiries please contact the press office on 020 3469 8300 or, out-of-hours, the duty press officer on 07050 264 059.


About the ECMC network:

Conducting the majority of early-phase cancer clinical trials in the UK, experimental cancer medicine centres (ECMCs) provide infrastructure funding to enhance the quantity and quality of research in developing new medicines to help beat cancer. Each ECMC brings together lab-based experts in cancer biology with cancer doctors to speed up the flow of ideas from the lab bench to the patient’s bedside. Launched in 2007, the network of 18 ECMCs is jointly supported by Cancer Research UK, the National Institute for Health Research in England, and the Departments of Health of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland who, together, have provided £35m from 2007-2012 and a further £35m from 2012 to 2017.  Find out more at

About Cancer Research UK’s drug development office

Cancer Research UK’s Drug Development Office has an impressive record of developing novel treatments for cancer. It currently has a portfolio of around 30 new anti-cancer agents in preclinical development, phase I or early phase II clinical trials. Since 1982, the Cancer Research UK Drug Development Office has taken over 120 potential new anti-cancer agents into clinical trials in patients, six of which have subsequently made it to market and many others are still in clinical development. Marketed drugs include Temozolomide (also known as Temodal®, Temodar and Temcad), a drug discovered by Cancer Research UK scientists, that is an effective new treatment for brain cancer and Abiraterone Acetate (also known as Zytiga®) which was co-discovered by Cancer Research UK scientists to treat advanced prostate cancer. Six other drugs are in late development phase III trials. This rate of success is comparable to that of any pharmaceutical company.

About Eli Lilly and Company

Lilly, a leading innovation-driven company, is developing a growing portfolio of pharmaceutical products by applying the latest research from its own worldwide laboratories and from collaborations with eminent scientific organizations. Headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, Lilly provides answers – through medicines and information – for some of the world’s most urgent medical needs.

Lilly UK is the UK Affiliate of Eli Lilly and Company. Lilly has been operating in the UK since 1934 and employs approximately 1400 people throughout the country working in sales and marketing, research and development and bio-tech manufacturing.

About Lilly Oncology

For more than five decades, Lilly Oncology has been dedicated to delivering innovative solutions that improve the care of people living with cancer and because no two cancer patients are alike, Lilly Oncology is committed to developing novel treatment approaches.

Lilly has as a strong heritage in oncology and has a history of developing treatments for lung, ovarian, breast and pancreatic cancer and mesothelioma.   Today, Lilly Oncology has one of the most robust clinical stage pipelines in the industry.

Lilly Oncology has created a global collaboration called Patient Access to Cancer Care Excellence – PACE.  It exists to encourage public policies and health care decisions that speed the development of new medicines, promote rapid learning from patient experiences and assure that cancer care and treatment responds to the needs and qualities of individual patients.  The PACE programme believes that by putting patients at the centre of cancer care we will ensure access to excellence and innovation in treatment.

A recent PACE study, conducted in six countries across the globe, showed that in the UK although the majority of people (73%)1 are satisfied with recent progress in the fight against cancer, half of them (42%) still feel a diagnosis of cancer is a death sentence. This was double the percentage reported by American survey respondents, suggesting people in the UK have lower expectations of cancer treatment.1


1 Lilly data on file.