"This new public-private partnership is a significant step forward in the battle against cancer and a real boost to the potential of immunotherapy", said Acting Health and Human Services Secretary Eric Hargan.
"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", Collins told the briefing.
"We have seen dramatic responses from immunotherapy, often eradicating cancer completely for some cancer patients", said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD.
This effort will comprise enabling systematic and uniform clinical testing of these disease indicators so researchers can gain a better understanding of biological response and resistance to certain cancer therapies.
"A scientific and organizational challenge this complex can not be addressed effectively by any one organization acting alone", said Maria C. Freire, Ph.D., the President and Executive Director of the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, in a statement. PACT will also facilitate information sharing by all stakeholders to better coordinate clinical efforts, align investigative approaches, reduce duplication, and enable more high-quality trials to be conducted.
In a Thursday press conference announcing the collaboration, Reed Cordish, who heads the Office of American Innovation, an initiative led by President Donald Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, said the program represents the "type of collaboration and partnership between the private sector and government that this administration is trying to foster across many sectors".
The companies participating include AbbVie, Amgen, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Celgene Corporation, Genentech, Gilead Sciences, GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen of Johnson & Johnson, Novartis and Pfizer.
Additional support has been provided by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association.
The 11 partners would contribute up to $55 million, while NIH would add about $160 million, based on availability of funds. "A systematic approach like PACT will help us to achieve success faster".
The National Cancer Institute recently awarded cooperative agreements to support four Cancer Immune Monitoring and Analysis Centers and a Cancer Immunologic Data Commons with a total of $53.6 million in funding over five years.