A new public-private partnership will facilitate systematic and uniform clinical testing of biomarkers to advance and understand the mechanisms of response and resistance to cancer therapy. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and 11 leading biopharmaceutical companies just unveiled the Partnership for Accelerating Cancer Therapies (PACT), a five-year public-private research collaboration totaling $215 million, as part of the Cancer Moonshot initiative.
PACT will initially focus on efforts to identify, develop, and validate biomarkers to advance new immunotherapy treatments that harness the immune system to attack cancer.
In making the announcement, NIH stressed that new immunotherapies have resulted in dramatic responses in certain cancer cases. “They have also been the focus of intense investment by biopharmaceutical companies seeking to provide new options for patients who do not respond to other cancer therapies, but they don’t work for all patients,” an NIH representative said at a press conference.
PACT hopes to spur the development and standardization of biomarkers to understand how immunotherapies work in some patients, and to predict their response to treatment. The research conducted under the partnership will also integrate biomarkers tied to the immune system and related oncology cases 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,” NIH says.
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. Private partners include AbbVie, Amgen, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma GmbH & Co., Bristol-Myers Squibb, Celgene Corporation, Genentech, Gilead Sciences, GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, and Pfizer.