By Roy Baynes,
senior vice president, Global Clinical Development, Merck Research Laboratories.

Isaac Newton is often attributed as saying, “If I have seen a little further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” The decades-long contributions of many scientists enabled by increasingly powerful research tools have reached a tipping point and are yielding meaningful progress for cancer patients today. Notably, the convergence of immunology and oncology continues to generate considerable interest. As a hematologist/oncologist, it is heartening to see the advances made for cancer patients, especially for those where previously there was little hope.

At Merck, we are proud to play our part in this ongoing transformation and remain focused on the translation of breakthrough science into oncology therapeutics – to potentially bring new hope to patients. There are four basic elements to our approach, each of which is conducted with a collaborative mindset and utmost scientific rigor:

  • Investment in exploratory research and discovery science to investigate critical questions, like the underlying genetics of cancer
  • Discovery and development of novel mechanisms with a focus on candidates likely to have unambiguously large effect sizes
  • Testing the full potential of drug candidates and other novel approaches leveraging where appropriate precision medicine tools
  • Maximizing the application of monotherapies and realizing as well the clinical potential of cancer medicines through strategic evaluation of combination regimens

While important progress has been made and recent therapeutic advances across a number of novel pathways have changed the paradigm for many patients -- cancer remains a formidable foe. The key to transforming the treatment of cancer is to continuously pursue discovery and clinical research that will allow us to help as many patients as possible.

With that in focus, Merck is advancing a broad oncology development program that is exploring over 20 different novel mechanisms. This includes research designed to better understand how to deploy our medicines to the greatest effect and identifying those patients likely to benefit most. We know that cancer doesn’t have a single cause or progress along a single pathway, so we will likely need to attack it in multiple ways.

Advancing this goal requires drive and resilience to build and expand upon what has been achieved to date with a focus on improving the lives of patients. We have established a strong foundation and are excited to be leading the charge into the future.