The U.S. National Institutes of Health and 11 pharmaceutical companies today announced the launch of a five-year cancer immunotherapy research collaboration as part of the Cancer Moonshot. In total the partners will contribute $215 million to what they are calling the Partnership for Accelerating Cancer Therapies (PACT).
PACT’s fundamental question, NIH director Francis Collins told reporters in a press conference, is, “why doesn’t immunotherapy work for all patients in all types of cancer, and what can we do about that?”
Top priority in answering that question is testing immune- and cancer-related biomarkers in clinical trials to understand the mechanisms of how cancers respond to or resist immunotherapy. With standardized biomarkers to look at and harmonized assays to test them across many different trials, data from different studies will be more easily compared, Collins said.
He expects having standard biomarkers and sharing data will help provide a scientific basis for deciding which cancer drugs to try in combination. Given the sheer number of potential combinations, that’s “one of the key reasons we got involved in PACT,” he said. “We don’t think random combinations are the way to go.”
Getting access to data from clinical trials NCI supports was “very attractive,” Hudson said.
Which biomarkers the collaboration will focus on first is still to be discussed at a meeting the companies will likely have next month, said Douglas Lowy, NCI’s acting director.
The 11 pharmaceutical companies participating are AbbVie, Amgen, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma GmbH & Co. KG, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Celgene Corporation, Genentech, Gilead Sciences, GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research and Pfizer. Each will contribute up to $1 million per year for the five-year partnership, totaling $55 million.
The NCI will make up the rest with $160 million in funding mostly from the Cancer Moonshot, with some coming from regular appropriations, Lowy said.
Oct 14, 2017