The National Institutes of Health (NIH) partnered with PhRMA and nine of its member companies to establish the Partnership for Accelerating Cancer Therapies (PACT), a five-year immuno-oncology research collaboration totaling $215 million as part of the Cancer Moonshot initiative.
According to a press release, the public-private partnership will be managed by the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH), an independent nonprofit organization that provides funding and manages alliances with public and private institutions supporting the mission of the NIH.
Immuno-oncology, the field dedicated to studying how the body’s immune system can fight cancer, has gained significant attention in recent years, resulting in considerable funding and promising scientific advances. Today, more than 240 immuno-oncology therapeutics, or immunotherapies, and vaccines are in development to help treat cancer, PhRMA reported in June.
The initial objective of the recently established PACT will be to identify, develop, and validate robust biomarkers, which are a measure of biological function. Through specific biomarkers, researchers can identify if a patient will respond to a therapy, track if a therapy is performing as predicted, or determine whether the disease is progressing or halting.
PACT is an example of how biopharmaceutical companies and public health institutions can collaborate to facilitate and advance research and the development of new treatments for patients.
The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) explains that the Cancer Moonshots initiative was started by former Vice President Joe Biden as a “national commitment to end cancer as we know it.”
Former President Barack Obama then signed the act into law on Dec. 13, 2015, establishing an NIH Innovation Account including $1.8 billion in supplemental funding over seven years to fund Moonshot projects and initiatives. On Jan. 12, 2016, during his State of the Union address, Obama officially announced the launch of the Cancer Moonshot initiative to eliminate cancer.
Since then, a Cancer Moonshot Task Force was created to ensure that the initiative’s goals and approaches are grounded in the best science. The task force consulted with external experts as well as a presidentially appointed National Cancer Advisory Board (NCAB).
A Blue Ribbon Panel of experts was established as a working group of the NCAB to assist the board in providing advice. The panel published a Blue Ribbon Panel report, describing 10 transformative research recommendations for achieving the Cancer Moonshot’s goal of making a decade’s worth of progress in cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment in just five years.