Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre will join Bristol Myers Squibb’s International Immuno-Oncology Network (II-ON) – a peer-to-peer network that aims to accelerate the advancement of cancer immunotherapies, the emerging “fourth pillar” of cancer treatment.

Peter Mac is the first Australian representative on the 15-member network which includes 250+ researchers and clinicians; 12 clinical trials already underway and 150 research projects across 20 different tumour types. Other members include global leaders in cancer research and care such as the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston; Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York; The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and The Institute of Cancer Research, University College London, UK.

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.”

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-tumor response through complementary mechanisms of action.

The BMS investment 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.”

About the International Immuno-Oncology Network (II-ON)

The II-ON, formed in 2012, is a global peer-to-peer collaboration between Bristol-Myers Squibb and academia advancing the science of Immuno-Oncology (I-O) through a series of preclinical, translational and biology-focused research objectives. The research in the collaboration is focused on three fundamental scientific pillars: understanding the mechanisms of resistance to immunotherapy; identifying patient populations likely to benefit from immunotherapy; and exploring novel combination therapies that may enhance anti-tumor response through complementary mechanisms of action. The II-ON facilitates the translation of scientific research findings into drug discovery and development, with the goal of introducing new treatment options into clinical practice.

In addition to Bristol-Myers Squibb, the II-ON currently comprises 15 leading cancer-research institutions, including: Clinica Universidad Navarra, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, The Earle A. Chiles Research Institute (Providence Health & Services), Institut Gustave Roussy, Istituto Nazionale per lo Studio e la Cura dei Tumori “Fondazione G. Pascale”, Bloomberg-Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, National Cancer Center Japan, The Netherlands Cancer Institute, The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and The Institute of Cancer Research, University College London, The University of Chicago, West German Cancer Center/University Hospital Essen, and now Columbia University Medical Center and Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.

About Peter Mac’s Immunology program

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. Its outcomes have benefited from the support of continuous National Health and Medical Research Council Program Grant funding since 2003, international grants from US Department of Defence, US Komen Foundation, Wellcome Trust UK, multiple international industry sources and multiple grants and fellowships from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Foundation, Cancer Council Victoria and the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Key Australasian research partners include The University of Melbourne, Monash University, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, QIMR-Berghofer MRI, Auckland University and Medicines Development P/L.

Media Release.