A North-South collaboration
HOUSTON & NORTH CHICAGO, Ill.—The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center's immunotherapy platform and AbbVie have linked up in a three-year collaboration to find new ways of harnessing the immune system to fight cancer. The deal establishes a framework for the organizations to select and carry out preclinical and clinical studies evaluating new treatment ideas in immuno-oncology. Dr. Ferran Prat, vice president of Strategic Ventures, expects this to be the first of a limited number of such agreements with MD Anderson's immunotherapy platform.
Under this arrangement, AbbVie and MD Anderson will each appoint two scientists to a joint scientific committee, which will decide which projects will be pursued. The collaboration will begin with a focus on projects driven by AbbVie Biotherapeutics, AbbVie's center of innovation in the biotech hub of the San Francisco Bay Area, with future projects to draw from the portfolio of oncology programs across the AbbVie Oncology pipeline. According to Sharma, "With the collaboration agreement in place, we can move quickly to design and implement new studies, clinical trials, and exchanges of reagents and take other actions without having to reach new, separate agreements.”
No financial details were disclosed.
According to Dr. Jim Allison, executive director of the immunotherapy platform and chair of Immunology at MD Anderson, there are a number of targets for drugs that can trigger the immune system to attack cancer. "Cancer immunotherapy drugs that remove two types of brakes on immune response are really just the tip of the iceberg for this field," Allison said in a press release. "Our agreements with companies such as AbbVie allow academic and industry scientists to work efficiently to move the science forward and extend this approach to more patients."
"AbbVie has both identified new molecules and developed novel technology to hit key targets, with the objective of designing new immunotherapy for the benefit of patients," added Dr. Padmanee Sharma, immunotherapy platform scientific director and professor of Genitourinary Medical Oncology and Immunology at MD Anderson.
MD Anderson's immunotherapy platform unites expertise and advanced technology for preclinical modeling, innovative clinical trials and immune monitoring before, during and after treatment to provide a better understanding of drug mechanisms and identify biomarkers to guide treatment. The platform works collaboratively with a select group of pharmaceutical companies and also is part of MD Anderson's Moon Shots Program, a transdisciplinary initiative to accelerate development of new treatments and prevention programs deriving from scientific discoveries.
"Pairing MD Anderson's cutting-edge preclinical, translational and clinical capabilities with AbbVie's innovative discovery and development programs accelerates our ability to deliver new therapies that can help transform the lives of people affected by cancer," Dr. Michael Severino, executive vice president of R&D and chief scientific officer for AbbVie, remarked in a statement about the collaboration. "AbbVie is pleased to partner with MD Anderson's world-class experts so that together we can advance the science of cancer immunotherapy for the benefit of patients around the world."
SOURCE: AbbVie press release