New Collaboration Designed to Advance Cancer Drug R&D

On Oct. 12, 2017, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) launched a collaboration with 11 leading biopharmaceutical companies known as the Partnership for Accelerating Cancer Therapies (PACT) to advance development of immunotherapies for cancer. The partnership is a five-year public-private research collaboration totaling $215 million that is part of the Cancer Moonshot research initiative set in motion in 2016 under the Obama Administration.

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 USA leading funder of medical research said in a statement.

"We have seen dramatic responses from immunotherapy, often eradicating cancer completely for some cancer patients", said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, in an agency press release. "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".

AbbVie, Amgen, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Celgene Corporation, Genentech, Gilead Sciences, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research and Pfizer. "A systematic approach like PACT will help us to achieve success faster".

Eric Hargan, the newly tapped acting secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services, told reporters, "Under President Trump, we are going to continue making significant investments in cancer cures".

"A scientific and organizational challenge this complex can not be addressed effectively by any one organization acting alone", said Maria C. Freire, Ph.D., the President and Executive Director of the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, in a statement. "Instead, it requires the energies and resources of public and private partners working in close collaboration". Collins appeared alongside Stephen J. Ubl, the CEO of the industry group PhRMA, in New Jersey on September 18 to announce a partnership that aims to discover non-addictive alternatives to pain treatment in light of the nationwide opioid crisis.

Also Thursday, a different (but overlapping) group of pharma companies announced a coalition to test new combinations of their immunotherapy drugs.

Republished with permission from STAT.