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Cancer briefings

Conquest - Spring 2014

MD Anderson establishes immunotherapy partnerships

by Scott Merville

MD Anderson will collaborate with Johnson & Johnson Innovation, LLC, and its affiliate Janssen Biotech, Inc., MedImmune, Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline to develop immunology-based cancer treatments through the MD Anderson Moon Shots Program’s immunotherapy platform.

The three-year translational research agreements bring together the scientific and clinical capabilities of MD Anderson and the global leaders in pharmaceutical and biotechnology development to strengthen the institution’s efforts to advance therapies that train the body’s immune system to combat cancer.

Ferran Prat, Ph.D., J.D.

“Our new collaborations are different from traditional agreements because they allow both parties to work on any project they deem appropriate without additional budgets,” said Ferran Prat, Ph.D., J.D., vice president of strategic industry ventures.

“We provide our pharma and biotech collaborators access to state-of-the-art facilities, novel research protocols for clinical trials open to our large and diverse patient population, and an opportunity to work with leaders in the field of immunotherapy,” Prat added. 

MD Anderson recognized the potential of immune-based therapies by creating one of the platforms that supports its Moon Shots Program, the institution’s 10-year commitment to more rapidly develop therapies and other interventions to significantly reduce deaths caused by the disease. The ultimate goal is for all cancers to become moon shots. The moons shots are supported by several platforms — infrastructure, technology or expertise — that support research efforts.

“We welcome the opportunity to work closely with these companies to build upon the early successes of immunotherapy by extending this approach to many types of cancer and exploring ways to improve treatment effectiveness,” said James Allison, Ph.D., chair of Immunology and executive director of the immunotherapy platform.

© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center