The Tisch Cancer Institute and the Precision Immunology Institute at Mount Sinai Health System are part of a $215 million public-private Cancer Moonshot research collaboration launched by the National Institutes of Health and 11 leading pharmaceutical companies.
The 5-year initiative, called Partnership for Accelerating Cancer Therapies (PACT), will initially focus on efforts to identify, develop, and validate robust biomarkers to advance new immunotherapies, which harness the immune system to attack cancer. This collaboration will dive deep into tumors and the immune system’s interactions with them at the cellular and molecular levels to identify biomarkers present in malignant and healthy tissues to determine how to make immunotherapies work for more patients.
The PACT Initiative
The PACT initiative includes a total award of $53.6 million over 5 years to Mount Sinai and 3 other cancer centers—Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Stanford Cancer Institute, and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center—to perform immune monitoring and analysis of clinical trials of cancer immunotherapy. The Mount Sinai team includes immunologists, clinical trial investigators, geneticists, pathologists, microbiologists, computer scientists, and data analysts who will use innovative techniques to extract as much information as possible from tumor, blood, and stool specimens collected from patients throughout treatment.
Ramon Parsons, MD, PhD
Led by the Human Immune Monitoring Center at the Precision Immunology Institute at Mount Sinai, researchers will develop innovative techniques that will also be able to be reliably reproduced, so the information can be quickly translated into useful tests to increase the chances of response to treatment in cancer centers across the country. Researchers will cast a wide net to measure the effect of immunotherapies on tissues, cells, bacteria, proteins, and genes. Mount Sinai scientists also aim to understand how the immune system’s strength, particularly in the gut flora, before patients even start treatment may help to explain their clinical outcomes.
“The Tisch Cancer Institute is committed to conduct innovative profiling of the immune system to determine the best approaches for therapy and prevention,” said Ramon Parsons, MD, PhD, Director of The Tisch Cancer Institute, Ward-Coleman Chair in Cancer Research, and Chair of the Department of Oncological Sciences at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “This groundbreaking Cancer Moonshot collaboration between industry, government, medicine, and academia is a great new initiative toward bringing the most effective and individualized treatments to more patients sooner.” ■