Dana-Farber's Belfer Institute announces collaboration with Johnson & Johnson innovation to research immunotherapies for lung cancer patients

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and its Belfer Institute for Applied Cancer Science has entered into a new three year collaboration with Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Boston and Janssen Biotech, Inc., to determine which lung cancer patients are most likely to benefit from a new generation of immunotherapies and to determine which combination of such therapies promise to be the most effective.

Immunotherapies are exciting new cancer therapies that harness the patient’s own immune system to attack tumors resulting in durable responses.  The collaboration comprises Dana-Farber’s and Janssen researchers and leverages the Belfer Institute’s lung cancer research platform and unique models to assess new immunotherapy agents in conditions that simulate the physical environment of human lung tumors. The collaboration will identify and evaluate the most effective ways of combining immunotherapy drugs, identify biomarkers and explore the biological mechanisms behind drug resistance. The partnership will also identify molecular weaknesses in lung cancer cells that can be targets for new immunotherapy drugs.

Harnessing the immune system to fight common and deadly cancers is one of the most exciting areas in oncology,” said Barrett Rollins, MD, PhD, 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,” said Kwok-Kin Wong, MD, PhD, co-scientific director of the Belfer Institute. “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.”