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October 13, 2017

NIH teams up with drugmakers to develop cancer immunotherapies

Daily Briefing

NIH on Thursday announced that it has partnered with 11 drugmakers to accelerate immunotherapy research to treat cancer.

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Partnership details

The five-year public-private partnership, called the Partnership for Accelerating Cancer Therapies (PACT), is part of the federal government's cancer "moonshot" initiative, which former President Barack Obama's administration launched in 2016 to find a cure for cancer.  

Under the partnership, NIH and drugmakers will dedicate $215 million to research focused on developing, identifying, and validating robust biomarkers to advance the development of new immunotherapy treatments for cancer. The drugmakers will contribute up to $55 million under the partnership, while NIH will contribute about $160 million.

NIH Director Francis Collins said the research also will examine why cancer immunotherapies do not work for all patients.

NIH's Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH) will manage the partnership, with FDA serving in an advisory role. The drugmakers participating in the partnership are:

  • AbbVie;
  • Amgen;
  • Boehringer Ingelheim;
  • Bristol-Myers Squibb;
  • Celgene Corp;
  • Genentech;
  • Gilead Sciences;
  • GlaxoSmithKline;
  • Johnson & Johnson;
  • Novartis; and
  • Pfizer.


Collins praised the public-private partnership as an "unprecedented" effort. He said, "By standardizing and validating biomarkers for immunotherapy while also developing and exploring new biomarkers, we hope to advance rapidly toward a new future of precision oncology that benefits all patients."

Acting HHS Secretary Eric Hargan said, "Under President Trump, we are going to continue making significant investments in cancer cures." He added, "Advancing great American medicine and science is a top, top priority for this administration" (Steenhuysen, Reuters, 10/12; Siddons, CQ Healthbeat, 10/12 [subscription required]; Baker, "Vitals," Axios, 10/13; Burton, Wall Street Journal, 10/12; NIH release, 10/12).

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