• Press Release

Two Mount Sinai Institutes to Join $215 Million Public-Private Partnership to Increase Patients’ Immunotherapy Success

  • New York, NY
  • (November 06, 2017)

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 New York City's largest academic medical system, encompassing eight hospitals, a leading medical school, and a vast network of ambulatory practices throughout the greater New York region. Mount Sinai is a national and international source of unrivaled education, translational research and discovery, and collaborative clinical leadership ensuring that we deliver the highest quality care—from prevention to treatment of the most serious and complex human diseases. The Health System includes more than 7,200 physicians and features a robust and continually expanding network of multispecialty services, including more than 400 ambulatory practice locations throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, and Long Island. The Mount Sinai Hospital is ranked No. 14 on U.S. News & World Report's "Honor Roll" of the Top 20 Best Hospitals in the country and the Icahn School of Medicine as one of the Top 20 Best Medical Schools in country. Mount Sinai Health System hospitals are consistently ranked regionally by specialty and our physicians in the top 1% of all physicians nationally by U.S. News & World Report.

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