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MD Anderson and AbbVie join forces to fight cancer

Posted: 26 January 2016 | Victoria White | No comments yet

The three-year collaboration agreement provides a framework for MD Anderson and AbbVie to efficiently choose and carry out preclinical and clinical studies evaluating new ideas in immuno-oncology…

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Centre (MD Anderson) and AbbVie have announced that they are to join forces to find new ways to unleash the immune system’s potential to fight cancer.

The three-year collaboration agreement provides a framework for MD Anderson and AbbVie to efficiently choose and carry out preclinical and clinical studies evaluating new ideas in immuno-oncology.

Commenting on the announcement, Padmanee Sharma, M.D., Ph.D., immunotherapy platform scientific director and professor of Genitourinary Medical Oncology and Immunology at MD Anderson, said: “AbbVie has both identified new molecules and developed novel technology to hit key targets, with the objective of designing new immunotherapy for the benefit of patients.”

AbbVie and MD Anderson will each assign two scientists to a joint scientific committee, which decides on projects to pursue. “With the collaboration agreement in place, we can move quickly to design and implement new studies, clinical trials, and exchanges of reagents and take other actions without having to reach new, separate agreements,” Sharma said.

Projects will be driven by AbbVie Biotherapeutics

The collaboration will get underway with projects driven by AbbVie Biotherapeutics, AbbVie’s centre of innovation in the biotech hub of the San Francisco Bay Area. Future projects will draw from the extensive portfolio of oncology programs across the AbbVie Oncology pipeline.

MD Anderson’s immunotherapy platform combines expertise and advanced technology for preclinical modeling, innovative clinical trials and immune monitoring before, during and after treatment to better understand drug mechanisms and identify biomarkers to guide treatment. The platform works collaboratively with a select group of pharmaceutical companies and also is part of MD Anderson’s Moon Shots Program, a transdisciplinary initiative to accelerate development of new treatments and prevention programs deriving from scientific discoveries.

Platform leader Jim Allison, Ph.D., executive director of the immunotherapy platform and chair of Immunology at MD Anderson, invented the breakthrough immunotherapy approach called immune checkpoint blockade, which uses antibodies to block proteins on the surface of T cells that otherwise shut down T cells’ attack on cancer.

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