Peter Mac joins BMS global immuno-oncology network

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The Melbourne-based Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre has become the first Australian representative on Bristol-Myers Squibb’s International Immuno-Oncology Network.

The peer-to-peer global network, comprised of 15 members including over 250 researchers and clinicians, aims to accelerate the development of cancer immunotherapies.

Bristol-Myers Squibb has been at the forefront of immunotherapy development, also known as the 'fourth pillar' of cancer treatment, with YERVOY (ipilimumab) and OPDIVO (nivolumab) already listed on the PBS.

The network, with 12 clinical trials already underway and 150 research projects across 20 different tumour types, includes other global leaders in cancer research and care such as the Boston based Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, and The Institute of Cancer Research in London.

The network focuses on understanding the mechanisms of resistance to immunotherapy, identifying patient populations likely to benefit from immunotherapy, and exploring novel combination therapies that may enhance anti-tumour response through complementary mechanisms of action.

The investment by Bristol-Myers Squibb will augment Peter Mac’s 20-year focus on harnessing the immune-system to fight cancer and has the potential to inform new combination therapy studies that can be tested in clinical trials

“We are excited that Peter Mac will be the first Australian research institution to join the International Immuno-Oncology Network,” said Jonathan Anderson, Medical Director, Bristol-Myers Squibb Australia.

“This international network of prestigious research institutions focuses on advancing the science of immuno-oncology for the treatment of a wide range of cancers. With a stellar reputation in the field of cancer research, Peter Mac will make a significant contribution to this collaborative research effort and help deliver benefits for patients in Australia and around the world.”

According to Peter Mac’s Executive Director of Cancer Research, Professor Joe Trapani, academic and industry research collaboration is essential for further-developing this next generation of life-saving cancer treatments.

“Immuno-oncology and immunotherapies offer a very promising and novel way to treat cancer. There is now evidence that they may be effective in some 15+ different cancers, and that list is increasing.

“Participation in powerful industry and academic networks such as the II-ON network will help to expedite the translation of discoveries made in the laboratory to new and more effective immune-based treatments for cancer patients.”

Peter Mac’s Cancer Immunology Program was established in 1991 at the Austin Hospital and moved to Peter Mac with 25 staff members in 2000. It has emerged as one of the world’s leading cancer research, education and treatment centres globally, and is Australia’s only public hospital solely dedicated to caring for people affected by cancer. It currently has over 2,500 staff, including more than 580 laboratory and clinical researchers.