Funds will be backed up with $55m from 11 companies to advance new cancer treatments that harness the immune system

The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) has launched a partnership with 11 companies to accelerate development of new cancer immunotherapies. The biomedical research agency said this $215 million (£162 million) effort supports the Obama administration’s ‘cancer moonshot’ goal of delivering immunotherapy more quickly to patients.

Dubbed the Partnership for Accelerating Cancer Therapies (Pact), the five-year public–private research collaboration will focus on identifying, developing and validating ‘robust biomarkers’ to advance new treatments that harness the immune system to attack cancer.

New immunotherapies have resulted in excellent outcomes in certain cancer cases, but they don’t work for all patients. ‘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,’ said the agency’s director, Francis Collins. ‘A systematic approach like Pact will help us to achieve success faster.’

The 11 partner companies: AbbVie, Amgen, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Celgene, Genentech, Gilead, GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen, Novartis and Pfizer, will each contribute $5 million to complement $160 million of NIH funding.