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Boehringer Ingelheim and MD Anderson Expand Collaboration to Accelerate Development of KRAS and TRAILR2 Compounds in Lung Cancer

  • Agreement builds on successful preclinical studies in gastrointestinal cancers through the joint Virtual Research and Development Center (VRDC) 
  • The continued collaboration will explore lung cancer targeting KRAS and TRAILR2 molecules from Boehringer Ingelheim’s growing portfolio of cancer treatments and builds on its commitment to delivering first-in-class treatment options to people living with cancer

Ingelheim, Germany and HOUSTON - 14 April 2021 – Boehringer Ingelheim and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center today announced the extension and expansion of their joint Virtual Research and Development Center (VRDC) to explore new molecules from Boehringer Ingelheim’s KRAS (Kirsten rat sarcoma) and TRAILR2 (TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand receptor 2) portfolios for the potential treatment of lung cancer, particularly non-small cell lung cancer. 

The collaboration, launched in 2019, has successfully combined MD Anderson’s innovative clinical research infrastructure and the patient-driven drug development capabilities of the Therapeutics Discovery division with Boehringer Ingelheim’s pipeline of innovative cancer medicines and expertise in advancing breakthrough therapies. Under the new agreement, joint research will continue for five additional years.

“Our collaboration with MD Anderson strengthens our determination to find solutions for the most difficult-to-treat cancers, and this latest commitment marks an important step forward, especially in our holistic KRAS program,” said Norbert Kraut, Ph.D., Head of Global Cancer Research at Boehringer Ingelheim. “We are delighted to extend our collaboration with MD Anderson. With our shared dedication to patients and like-minded approach to innovation, we have the potential to bring the medicines to lung and gastrointestinal cancer patients that they so much need.” 

The flexible nature of the VRDC agreement allows the teams to expand their lung cancer indication programs targeting KRAS and TRAILR2, including Boehringer Ingelheim’s first-in-class SOS1::pan-KRAS inhibitor (BI 1701963), inhibitors of KRAS G12C (BI 1823911) and MEK (BI 3011441), as well as a novel undisclosed bi-specific TRAILR2 agonist. 

The collaboration already has resulted in a number of joint publications1, conference presentations (including at the 2021 AACR Annual Meeting2) and clinical trial activities. Boehringer Ingelheim is pursuing a comprehensive mutant KRAS-directed effort with multiple programs expected to enter the VRDC with MD Anderson.
“We are proud to expand our work with Boehringer Ingelheim in a very exciting drug-development space – advancing novel targeted therapies against KRAS and TRAILR2,” said Timothy Heffernan, Ph.D., Head of Oncology Research in Therapeutics Discovery at MD Anderson. “Our collaboration is built upon a strong working relationship and complementary expertise, highlighting how an academic center and a pharmaceutical company can strategically work together to advance innovative therapies for patients with cancer.”
MD Anderson’s Therapeutics Discovery division is anchored by an experienced team of drug development experts working to advance the next generation of cancer therapies. The Translational Research to Advance Therapeutics and Innovation in Oncology (TRACTION) platform, led by Heffernan, performs cutting-edge translational research to rapidly advance new therapies to the patients most likely to benefit.

KRAS is the most frequently mutated cancer-causing oncogene. One in seven of all human metastatic cancers expresses KRAS mutations, with mutation rates of more than 30 percent in lung adenocarcinomas, more than 40 percent in colorectal cancers and more than 90 percent in pancreatic cancers. No approved treatments for KRAS-driven cancers exist currently, further underscoring the need for continued investment in research and development. Tumor cell-selective activation of TRAILR2 can trigger cancer cell death in indications of high medical need, including lung and gastrointestinal malignancies.

Intended Audiences 
This press release is issued from our corporate headquarters in Ingelheim, Germany and is intended to provide information about our global business. Please be aware that information relating to the approval status and labels of approved products may vary from country to country, and a country-specific press release on this topic may have been issued in the countries where we do business.

MD Anderson has an institutional financial conflict of interest with Boehringer Ingelheim related to this research and has therefore implemented an Institutional Conflict of Interest Management and Monitoring Plan.

About Boehringer Ingelheim
Boehringer Ingelheim is working on breakthrough therapies that improve the lives of humans and animals. As a leading research-driven biopharmaceutical company, the company creates value through innovation in areas of high unmet medical need. Founded in 1885 and family-owned ever since, Boehringer Ingelheim takes a long-term perspective. Around 52,000 employees serve more than 130 markets in the three business areas, Human Pharma, Animal Health, and Biopharmaceutical Contract Manufacturing. Learn more at

Boehringer Ingelheim in Oncology
Cancer takes. Takes away time. Takes away loved ones. At Boehringer Ingelheim Oncology, we are giving patients new hope, by taking cancer on.  We are dedicated to collaborating with the oncology community on a shared journey to deliver leading science. 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, immuno-oncology therapies and intelligent combination approaches to help combat many cancers.

About MD Anderson
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston ranks as one of the world's most respected centers focused on cancer patient care, research, education and prevention. The institution’s sole mission is to end cancer for patients and their families around the world. MD Anderson is one of only 49 comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). MD Anderson is ranked No.1 for cancer care in U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Hospitals” survey. It has ranked as one of the nation’s top two hospitals for cancer care since the survey began in 1990 and has ranked first 14 times in the last 17 years. MD Anderson receives a cancer center support grant from the NCI of the National Institutes of Health (P30 CA016672).