Two Mount Sinai Institutes to Join $215 Million Public-Private Partnership to Increase Patients’ Immunotherapy Success
The Tisch Cancer Institute and the Precision Immunology Institute at Mount Sinai Health System are part of a $215 million public-private Cancer Moonshot research collaboration launched by the National Institutes of Health and 11 leading pharmaceutical companies.
“We are at the critical juncture of really understanding why patients respond or don’t respond to checkpoint blockade immunotherapy,” said Miriam Merad, MD, PhD, Director of the Precision Immunology Institute and the Human Immune Monitoring Center and co-leader of the Cancer Immunology program at The Tisch Cancer Institute . “The immune monitoring approaches funded by this grant application will lead to a real paradigm shift in clinical trials, which now can be designed based on scientific evidence to attack each patient’s unique cancer.”
The five-year initiative, called Partnership for Accelerating Cancer Therapies (PACT), will initially focus on efforts to identify, develop, and validate robust biomarkers—standardized biological markers of disease and treatment response—to advance new immunotherapy treatments that harness the immune system to attack cancer. Immunotherapies have emerged as highly promising approaches to treat cancer patients, but only a minority of cancer patients have benefited so far. This collaboration will dive deep into tumors and the immune system’s interactions with them at the cellular and molecular level to identify biomarkers present in malignant and healthy tissues to figure out how to make immunotherapies work for more patients.
The PACT initiative includes a total award of $53.6 million over five years to Mount Sinai and three other cancer centers (Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Stanford Cancer Institute, and University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center) to perform immune monitoring and analysis of clinical trials that test cancer immunotherapy drugs. The Mount Sinai team includes immunologists, clinical trial investigators, geneticists, pathologists, microbiologists, computer scientists, and data analysts who will use innovative techniques to extract as much information as possible from tumor, blood, and stool specimens collected from patients throughout treatment.
“We are thrilled to be a recipient of this grant, particularly because it recognizes that the key to developing better cancer immunotherapies is to understand how the immune system changes and interacts with tumors throughout treatment,” said Sacha Gnjatic, PhD, Associate Director of the Human Immune Monitoring Center and Associate Professor of Immunology and Hematology and Oncology at The Tisch Cancer Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “Our goal for this effort is to be as innovative as possible while still standardizing our approaches across many clinical trials, so that our research can efficiently guide clinicians and identify ways to help more patients.”
Led by the Human Immune Monitoring Center at the Precision Immunology Institute at Mount Sinai, researchers will develop innovative techniques that will also be able to be reliably reproduced so that the information can be quickly translated into useful tests to increase the chances of response to treatment in cancer centers across the country. Researchers will cast a wide net to measure the effect of immunotherapy drugs on tissues, cells, bacteria, proteins, and genes. Mount Sinai scientists also aim to understand how the immune system’s strength, particularly in the gut flora, before patients even start treatment helps explain their clinical outcomes.
“The Tisch Cancer Institute is committed to conduct innovative profiling of the immune system to determine the best approaches for therapy and prevention,” said Ramon Parsons, MD, PhD, Director of The Tisch Cancer Institute, Ward-Coleman Chair in Cancer Research, and Chair of the Department of Oncological Sciences at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “This groundbreaking Cancer Moonshot collaboration between industry, government, medicine, and academia is a great new initiative toward bringing the most effective and individualized treatments to more patients sooner.”
About the Mount Sinai Health System
The Mount Sinai Health System is an integrated health system committed to providing distinguished care, conducting transformative research, and advancing biomedical education. Structured around seven hospital campuses and a single medical school, the Health System has an extensive ambulatory network and a range of inpatient and outpatient services—from community-based facilities to tertiary and quaternary care.
The System includes approximately 7,100 primary and specialty care physicians; 12 joint-venture ambulatory surgery centers; more than 140 ambulatory practices throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and 31 affiliated community health centers. Physicians are affiliated with the renowned Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, which is ranked among the highest in the nation in National Institutes of Health funding per investigator. The Mount Sinai Hospital is in the "Honor Roll" of best hospitals in America, ranked No. 15 nationally in the 2016-2017 "Best Hospitals" issue of U.S. News & World Report. The Mount Sinai Hospital is also ranked as one of the nation's top 20 hospitals in Geriatrics, Gastroenterology/GI Surgery, Cardiology/Heart Surgery, Diabetes/Endocrinology, Nephrology, Neurology/Neurosurgery, and Ear, Nose & Throat, and is in the top 50 in four other specialties. New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked No. 10 nationally for Ophthalmology, while Mount Sinai Beth Israel, Mount Sinai St. Luke's, and Mount Sinai West are ranked regionally. Mount Sinai's Kravis Children's Hospital is ranked in seven out of ten pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report in "Best Children's Hospitals."