By Peter Lebowitz, Janssen Global Therapeutic Area Head, Oncology
Today we announced a three-year collaboration with the Dana-Faber Cancer Institute’s Belfer Institute for Applied Cancer Science to determine which lung cancer patients are most likely to benefit from a new generation of immuno-oncology therapies. This agreement is one of seven new strategic oncology collaborations that we’ve recently announced, including a lymphoma program with Weill Cornell Medical College, a prostate cancer focused agreement with Aduro BioTech, and targeted antibody program agreements with the companies Bioceros, Merus, and Affimed.
Together, these new collaborations demonstrate the Janssen commitment to patients by pursuing the best science internally and externally. They also reflect the transformative approaches being sought by Johnson & Johnson Innovation and Janssen across three main oncology focus areas: lung cancer, prostate cancer, and hematological malignancies.
Our goal in the Dana-Farber agreement, as well as in the MD Anderson Cancer Center collaboration we announced earlier this year, is to develop personalized medicine approaches using immuno-oncology therapies. Immuno-oncology therapies are an exciting approach to treating cancer by harnessing a patient’s own immune system to attack tumors, potentially resulting in a durable response.
As noted by Kwok-Kin Wong, MD, PhD, co-scientific director of the Belfer Institute, “Immuno-oncology therapies have yielded dramatic and durable responses in subsets of cancer patients. In lung cancer, there is a tremendous opportunity to enhance patient outcomes by understanding why some patients respond to these agents while others don’t.”
The Dana-Farber collaboration leverages the Belfer Institute’s lung cancer research platform and unique models to assess new immuno-oncology therapy agents in conditions that simulate the physical environment of human lung tumors. The collaboration will evaluate the most effective ways of combining immuno-oncology therapy drugs, identify biomarkers and explore the biological mechanisms behind drug resistance.
The collaboration with MD Anderson similarly leverages unique clinical research capabilities to understand the immune system microenvironment and to identify new opportunities for therapeutic interventions.
A significant feature of both of these collaborations is the close connection between Janssen researchers with the scientific teams at both Dana-Farber and MD Anderson Cancer Center. These connections ensure the swiftest possible progress for patients, which in the end, is what really matters most.