CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Boston, and Janssen Biotech, Inc. have announced the launch of a three-year immuno-oncology lung cancer collaboration with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Under the collaboration, Janssen scientists will collaborate with the researchers at Dana-Farber's Belfer Institute for Applied Cancer Science to investigate the clinical setting for select immuno-oncology agents in Janssen’s pipeline for lung cancer. No financial details were disclosed.
“We are thrilled to be working with the scientists at the Belfer Institute,” Peter Lebowitz, Janssen Global Therapeutic Area Head of Oncology, said in a press release. “Their excellence in lung cancer translational research, which incorporates both tumor genetics and immunotherapy, will be critical to the development of personalized treatment options for patients in need.”
“There is a growing recognition of the potential importance of immuno-oncology agents directed at a variety of cancers. Through our collaboration with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, we will be able to increase the probability of success and decrease development times for our important immuno-oncology pipeline in the critical area of lung cancer,” Dr. Robert G. Urban, dead of Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Boston, commented in a statement.
The teams will leverage the Belfer Institute’s proprietary lung cancer research platform and models to evaluate immunotherapy agents in conditions that can mimic the physical environment of human lung cancer tumors. In addition, the teams will also seek to identify the most effective ways of combining immunotherapy drugs, to identify biomarkers and to explore the biological mechanisms responsible for drug resistance. Under this partnership, the researchers will also investigate molecular weaknesses found in lung cancer cells that could provide new immunotherapy targets.
“Harnessing the immune system to fight common and deadly cancers is one of the most exciting areas in oncology,” said Dr. Barrett Rollins, chief scientific officer at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Linde Family Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. “Belfer Institute scientists have unique tools for figuring out how to do this. Through their work with Janssen, a leader in therapeutic innovation, we expect to see the rapid development of new drugs that will help cancer patients.”
“Immunotherapies have yielded dramatic and durable responses in subsets of cancer patients. In lung cancer there is a tremendous opportunity to enhance patient outcome by understanding why some patients respond to immunotherapy agents while others don’t,” Dr. Kwok-Kin Wong, co-scientific director of the Belfer Institute, added in a statement. “Our partnership with Janssen will focus on elucidating response and resistance mechanisms so that new therapies can be used to extend lung cancer patients’ lives.”
The American Cancer Society reports that lung cancer currently tops the list as the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women, responsible for more deaths than breast, prostate and colon cancers combined. Lung cancer represents one of three focus areas for Janssen Oncology due to the high unmet need for this cancer subtype.