New Collaboration Designed to Advance Cancer Drug R&D

Cornelia Mascio
Ottobre 13, 2017

The five-year public-private research collaboration, known as the Partnership for Accelerating Cancer Therapies, will "identify, develop and validate robust biomarkers - standardized biological markers of disease and treatment response - to advance new immunotherapy treatments that harness the immune system to attack cancer", the US leading funder of medical research said in a statement.

New immunotherapies have resulted in dramatic responses in certain cancer cases.

Collins said the group will work to explain why cancer immunotherapies, which have transformed treatment for melanoma, leukemia and some other cancers, do not work for more patients. Research will also integrate immune and other related oncology biomarkers into clinical trials by defining a set of standardized biomarkers to be tested across a variety of studies.

This approach will allow for consistent generation of data, uniform and harmonized assays to support data reproducibility, comparability of data across trials, and discovery and validation of new biomarkers for immunotherapy and related combinations. "We need to bring that kind of success-and hope-for more people and more types of cancers, and we need to do it quickly".

It is the second major public-private collaboration announced by the NIH in the last month. PACT will also facilitate information sharing by all stakeholders to better coordinate clinical efforts, align investigative approaches, reduce duplication, and enable more high-quality trials to be conducted.

The 215-million-U.S. -dollar partnership, billed as "a significant step" forward in the battle against cancer, was part of the Cancer Moonshot, an initiative launched in 2016 by former President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden after the death of Biden's son, Beau, from brain cancer.

Partners include AbbVie, Amgen, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Celgene, Roche's Genentech, Gilead Sciences, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson's Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies, Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, and Pfizer.

Additional support has been provided by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association. "A systematic approach like PACT will help us to achieve success faster".

The NIH plans to put up the bulk of the money itself, up to $160 million - depending on its budget - while each of the biopharma companies involved put up $1 million each for 5 years for another $55 million.

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