Memorial Sloan Kettering Announces Policy Changes


Today, Memorial Sloan Kettering shared results of a recent review by our Boards of Overseers and Managers, as well as additional policies we are considering to enhance communication, transparency, disclosure, and oversight of outside activities and industry-supported clinical trials.

Effective immediately, we have implemented a moratorium on appointments of MSK board members to serve on the boards of MSK start-ups or to make any direct investments in them. Additionally, we intend to codify, as standard policy, that any potential equity that could be attained by employees appointed as MSK-designees to outside boards will be returned to the institution and dedicated to research.

The moratorium is in place while the recently announced task force, which includes independent external appointees, examines policies around transparency, reporting and outside activities and develops a broad set of recommendations. But we decided today’s actions should be taken immediately.

We have determined that when profits emerge through the monetization of our research, financial payments to MSK-designated board members should be used for the benefit of the institution. This is the case with Y-mAbs, a company that had an initial public offering September 21st based on MSK’s tremendous contributions to lifesaving treatment for children with neuroblastoma. One of our experts in technology transfer was appointed to the Y-mAbs board as MSK’s designee so that MSK’s amazing discoveries can reach cancer patients as quickly and as appropriately as possible. The new policy will allow us to continue doing that, while also ensuring that MSK research is the beneficiary of any business successes around it.

To that end, this is a superb example of how technology transfer works. Knowledge based on laboratory and clinical research, funded internally for years and with support from the Band of Parents Foundation and other dedicated groups, was licensed by MSK to a company with the wherewithal to make a difference. Experimental treatments that could once be made available only to patients at MSK will now be accessible to many others.

Neuroblastoma is the third most common cancer in children and most commonly strikes children under 10. It arises in the sympathetic nervous system, the network of nerves that carries messages from the brain throughout the body. Advanced neuroblastoma has a survival rate of less than 50 percent over a five-year period.

MSK couldn’t be prouder of the work of our colleagues, who persisted over a 20-year period to develop antibodies against different forms of advanced neuroblastoma. We are equally proud of the institution’s role in licensing these discoveries, which will enable advances to come to market as rapidly as possible and ensure that no child or parent is without access to these life-saving therapies.

Since the execution of the license, YmAbs has opened two pivotal clinical trials, and has made significant progress in collaboration with MSK on these two life-saving drugs along the way:

  • One Orphan Drug designation in the US and one Orphan Medicinal Product designation in Europe, Rare Pediatric Disease designation in two indications, and Breakthrough Designation from the FDA for omburtamab; and
  • Orphan Drug designation in two indications, a Rare Pediatric Disease designation and a Breakthrough Designation from the FDA for naxitamab

Y-mAbs Therapeutics Inc. is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of novel, antibody-based therapeutic products for the treatment of cancer based on a range of technologies licensed from Memorial Sloan Kettering in August of 2015.

Y-mAbs was founded by Thomas Gad, the father of an MSK neuroblastoma survivor who was cured by experimental treatments using 8H9 (omburtamab) and mouse 3F8.