The promise of immunotherapy, drugs that stimulate the body's immune system to fight cancer, can be witnessed by observing the string of development collaborations recently formed with leading pharmaceutical companies.
MD Anderson's partnerships include: Johnson & Johnson Innovation, LLC, and its affiliate Janssen Biotech, Inc., MedImmune, Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline. The agreements are part of an ambitious plan to collaborate with industry leaders to more rapidly develop cancer immunotherapies as part of MD Anderson's Moon Shots Program.
The agreements combine the capabilities of MD Anderson to identify promising drug targets with industry expertise to move these targets to clinically significant endpoints where more effective drugs can be developed.
"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., and 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 a platform that supports its Moon Shots Program, the institution's 10-year commitment to more rapidly develop therapies and other interventions to significantly reduce cancer deaths.
"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.
MD Anderson's immunotherapy efforts are co-lead by Jim Allison, Ph.D., Patrick Hwu, M.D. and Padmanee Sharma, M.D., Ph.D.