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NIH Partners With Biopharmaceutical Firms on $215M Cancer Immunotherapy Research Initiative

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The National Institutes of Health announced today that it has partnered with 11 major biopharmaceutical companies to advance cancer immunotherapies, initially through the development of biomarkers of disease and treatment response.

Called the Partnership for Accelerating Cancer Therapies (PACT), the five-year alliance will receive up to $215 million in funding from the members as part of the Cancer Moonshot initiative. The NIH said it will commit as much as $160 million, with the biopharmaceutical firms pledging $55 million.

The industry partners include AbbVie, Amgen, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Celgene, Roche's Genentech, Gilead Sciences, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson's Janssen Pharmaceutical, the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, and Pfizer. PACT will be managed by the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, with the US Food and Drug Administration acting as an advisor.

PACT's first aim is the identification, development, and validation of biomarkers that can provide insights into the mechanisms of response and resistance to cancer immunotherapies.

Research conducted by the alliance is expected to 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, the NIH said. This 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.

PACT will also share data with all stakeholders in order to better coordinate clinical efforts, align investigative approaches, reduce duplication, and enable more high-quality trials to be conducted, the NIH added.

"This partnership, and the data the partners have committed to making publicly accessible to the broader research community, will facilitate our continued progress in helping to find the cancer treatments that benefit the greatest number of patients," Douglas Lowy, acting director of the National Cancer Institute, said in a statement.