MD Anderson, BMS Collaborate to Advance Lung Immuno-Oncology Research

MD Anderson, BMS Collaborate to Advance Lung Immuno-Oncology Research

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) have announced a new clinical research collaboration to assess potentially innovative strategies for the use of BMS’s immune-oncology agents Opdivo (nivolumab) and Yervoy (ipilimumab) for the treatment of early- and advanced-stage lung cancer (LC).

The two partners have a history of working together. In September 2014, BMS and MD Anderson entered into an immunotherapy clinical collaboration focusing on the evaluation of BMS’s immunotherapy assets for the treatment of hematologic malignancies, like leukemia. In December 2015, the two parties again collaborated to leverage MD Anderson’s immunotherapy platform to help link immunologic data with the genomic and proteomic platforms for a series of cancer types.

This 2016 partnership will support several Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trials assessing Opdivo – a PD-1 immune checkpoint inhibitor designed for the treatment of metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) – as monotherapy and in combination with Yervoy – a CTLA-4 immune checkpoint inhibitor developed for the treatment of unresectable or metastatic melanoma – or in regiments with other agents, like radiation or surgery.

These studies will include comprehensive translational work, such as the exploration of novel biomarkers to better distinguish responders from non-responders in lung cancer, as well as preclinical studies of next-gen immunotherapeutic agents with the potential to benefit larger numbers of patients.

“Immunotherapy agents such as nivolumab already have prolonged the lives of many patients with metastatic NSCLC. Through our multidisciplinary collaboration with Bristol-Myers Squibb, we look forward to exploring innovative ways to integrate immunotherapy with other treatments, including surgery and radiation, with the goal of improving standard of care and expanding treatment options for all patients, including those with early stage disease,” said John Heymach, M.D., Ph.D., MD Anderson’s chair of Thoracic/Head and Neck Medical Oncology, in a press release.

The new alliance will leverage MD Anderson’s pre-existing immunotherapy platform developed in December 2015 and broaden the scientific community’s understanding of immunotherapy through preclinical and clinical studies in lung cancer. Resulting data will help BMS optimize its immunotherapy combinations for future clinical trials while also enhancing mechanistic understanding of the functioning of the immune system when mounting  anti-tumor responses.

“Having approved PD-1 inhibitors for metastatic NSCLC gives us the chance to explore what it is about the tumor microenvironment that allows response to these agents,” said Padmanee Sharma, M.D., Ph.D., MD Anderson’s immunotherapy platform scientific director and professor of genitourinary medical oncology and immunology.

“Immune monitoring can generate data that will improve our understanding of the mechanisms that lead to response or resistance to treatment and facilitate the development of new biomarkers to personalize treatments and match patients to the right therapies or combinations,” Sharma said.

MD Anderson’s immunotherapy platform also integrates the Moon Shots Program – a comprehensive and ambitious effort dedicated to dramatically reduce the incidence and mortality of cancer so the disease becomes preventable, detectable, treatable, and forgettable in all its forms.

“Strategic collaborations with academia have been central to helping Bristol-Myers Squibb develop and deliver new immuno-oncology treatment options to patients,” said Jean Viallet, M.D., BMS Global Clinical Research Lead, Oncology. “This collaboration will leverage the considerable experience of MD Anderson to accelerate and expand our scientific and clinical understanding of how the immune system and other treatments might work together to fight cancer.”