Bristol-Myers Squibb announced it has entered into a partnership agreement with UCLA as part of Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Immuno-Oncology Rare Population Malignancy (I-O RPM) research program in the United States.
The I-O RPM program is a multi-institutional initiative between Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University and the Northwestern Medicine Developmental Therapeutics Institute, Moffitt Cancer Center, The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins and now UCLA. The program is dedicated to clinical research of immuno-oncology drugs as potential treatment options for patients with high risk, poor prognostic cancers, defined as a rare population malignancy. The Rare Population Malignancy Program is a very timely initiative, allowing for a rapid investigation on the clinical utility of Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Immuno-Oncology agents, as single agents or in combinations, including with therapies from other sources, facilitating the translation of basic scientific research into clinical trials.
As part of the I-O RPM research program, the Company and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA will conduct a range of early stage clinical trials. Bristol-Myers Squibb will be funding research positions within UCLA’s fellowship program in the UCLA Division of Hematology/Oncology. “The I-O RPM research program is an important complement to Bristol-Myers Squibb’s broad research and development program for immuno-oncology,” Laura Bessen, M.D., head of U.S. Medical, Bristol-Myers Squibb, said in a press release. “We look forward to working with UCLA in an effort to continue advancing the science in this innovative field of research and cancer treatment.”
Because cancer cells are very different from normal cells in the body, upon successful recognition the immune system targets and destroys tumor cells. However, these cells often find ways to escape so that the immune system does not always recognize them as dangerous. In a similar manner to viruses they can change over time (mutate) and escape from an efficient immune response. Moreover, patient’s own immune response to cancer cells is often not strong enough to fight off such malignancies. Immuno-oncology therapeutics activate the immune system allowing it to recognize and destroy cancer cells, and has been a rapidly evolving area with an enormous promise for cancer patients.