NIH Partners With 11 Biopharmaceutical Companies on PACT Collaboration


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On October 12, 2017, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and 11 leading biopharmaceutical companies launched the Partnership for Accelerating Cancer Therapies (PACT), a 5-year public-private research collaboration totaling $215 million as part of the Cancer Moonshot. PACT will initially focus on efforts to identify, develop, and validate robust biomarkers to advance new immunotherapies. The partnership will be managed by the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH), with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) serving in an advisory role.

Eric Hargan

Eric Hargan

“This new public-private partnership is a significant step forward in the battle against cancer and a real boost to the potential of immunotherapy,” said Acting Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Eric Hargan. “We are excited for this partnership, which will strengthen efforts already underway across HHS.”

Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD

Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD

“We have seen dramatic responses from immunotherapy, often eradicating cancer completely for some patients,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD. “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. A systematic approach like PACT will help us to achieve success faster.”

More About PACT

PACT will facilitate systematic and uniform clinical testing of biomarkers to advance the understanding of the mechanisms of response and resistance to cancer therapy. The research conducted under the partnership will also 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. 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. 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.

Maria C. Freire, PhD

Maria C. Freire, PhD

“A scientific and organizational challenge this complex cannot be addressed effectively by any one organization acting alone,” said Maria C. Freire, PhD, President and Executive Director of the FNIH. “Instead, it requires the energies and resources of public and private partners working in close collaboration.”

Partner Organizations

PACT partners include the following -organizations:

  • AbbVie, North Chicago, Illinois
  • Amgen, Thousand Oaks, California
  • Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma GmbH & Co. KG, Ingelheim, Germany
  • Bristol-Myers Squibb, New York
  • Celgene Corporation, Summit, New Jersey
  • Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, San Francisco
  • Gilead Sciences, Foster City, California
  • GlaxoSmithKline plc, Brentford, United Kingdom
  • Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, New Jersey
  • Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, Basel, Switzerland
  • Pfizer, Inc, New York

Additional support has been provided by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association (PhRMA).

The 11 partner organizations will contribute up to $1 million per year for 5 years through the FNIH, for a total private sector contribution of $55 million. The NIH will contribute $160 million over the 5 years of the partnership, pending the availability of funds.

Immunologic Cooperative Agreements

The NIH’s National Cancer Institute (NCI) recently awarded cooperative agreements to support four Cancer Immune Monitoring and Analysis Centers and a Cancer Immunologic Data Commons, with a total of $53.6 million in funding over 5 years. The four centers and one commons will form a network of laboratory centers, which will support both adult and pediatric immunotherapy trials. Researchers at the Cancer Immune Monitoring and

Douglas R. Lowy, MD

Douglas R. Lowy, MD

Analysis Centers will perform deep tumor and immune profiling. The resulting data will be collected in the Cancer Immunologic Data Commons database for exploration of biomarkers of immune response. This network will also provide a foundation for the core laboratory, assay development, and database functions required by PACT.

“NCI’s long-term support for basic and translational research in immunotherapy paved the way for the recent dramatic clinical successes in this area,” said Douglas R. Lowy, MD, Acting Director of NCI. “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.” ■


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