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The National Cancer Institute’s Technology Transfer Center (TTC) facilitates partnerships between the NIH research laboratories and external partners. With a specialized team, TTC guides the interactions of our partners from the point of discovery, to patenting, through invention development to licensing. We play a key role in helping to accelerate development of cutting-edge research by connecting our partners to NIH’s world-class facilities, resources, and discoveries. Some of our partnerships have resulted in the commercialization of therapeutics, vaccines, diagnostics, medical devices and research tools that benefit patients worldwide. TTC is proud to share a few examples of our successful partnerships.
Prior to a groundbreaking discovery by scientists supported by the NCI, fewer than 40 percent of children with high-risk neuroblastoma lived five years after diagnosis. Now a novel immunotherapy 30 years in the making, ch14.18, Unituxin™ (dinutuximab), is providing new hope for infants and children with this rare cancer.
Micatu Tissue Arrayer
An NCI researcher recognized a critical need to create a low-cost, easy-to-use tissue microarrayer (TMA), an instrument used by researchers and pathologists to accurately examine tissue samples from patients. Starting from a simple drawing, NCI’s Dr. Stephen Hewitt conceived the idea. Once patented, the NCI Technology Transfer Center identified that the commercialization of the technology could be well-served by the Small Business Innovation Research Technology Transfer (SBIR-TT) program, which is based on developing a close collaboration between the awarded companies and NCI scientists. The instrument, named “MicaArray”, has been refined and developed to be commercially available by Micatu, Inc., a New York based company. Through the vision of Dr. Hewitt and the engineering expertise of Micatu, Inc., the company who was awarded the SBIR contract, there is now an affordable, turnkey instrument that allows investigators the ability to construct their own TMAs rather than send their samples to a core laboratory.
Halaven® - eribulin mesylate (analog of halichondrin B)
Beginning in the 1990s, researchers discovered that halichondrin B, derived from a substance found in the black sea sponge off the coast of Japan, had anticancer activity. Over the next several years, scientists then worked to synthesize the drug. Next, under a CRADA with NCI, Eisai Co. provided eribulin for NCI's preclinical development activities and to support NCI's Phase I clinical trials. Eisai ultimately took the product, Halaven®, to licensure. In 2010, Halaven® (eribulin mesylate), a cancer therapeutic, was approved by the FDA for the treatment of patients with metastatic breast cancer who have previously received at least two chemotherapeutic regimens for the treatment of metastatic disease. In January 2016, the FDA approved Halaven® for the treatment of inoperable liposarcoma for patients who received prior chemotherapy that contained an anthracycline drug.
Gardasil® and Cervarix®
On June 8, 2006, the Food and Drug Administration announced the approval of Gardasil®, a vaccine developed by Merck & Company to prevent human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, the primary cause of cervical cancer. The vaccine marks a major advance toward cancer prevention and protection of women’s health. Key elements of the technology for Gardasil® originated from the HPV research of the laboratory of Drs. Douglas Lowy and John Schiller of the NCI.
Taxol®, also known as paclitaxel, is the most well-known natural-source cancer drug in the United States. Derived from the bark of the Pacific yew tree (Taxus brevifolia), it is used in the treatment of breast, lung, and ovarian cancer, as well as Kaposi's sarcoma. Paclitaxel was first identified for its antitumor activity as a result of NCI-funded research seeking to identify natural products with anti-cancer activity. A CRADA between the NCI and Bristol-Myers Squibb paved the way for the drug to be fully developed.
Before the development of Velcade®, there was no effective treatment for multiple myeloma (MM)—a blood cancer that is estimated to claim over 10,000 lives in the United States each year. Velcade® is the first drug of its kind in a new class of anticancer drugs called proteasome inhibitors. A collaboration between the NCI and ProScript, a biotech company, led to the initial clinical trial of Velcade® and to approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of MM. Today, patients diagnosed with MM live longer because of the availability of new drugs like Velcade®. MM is now treated as more of a chronic disease.