Roche forms 21-site I/O R&D network, commits $100M

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Roche has put together a cancer immunotherapy research network and committed up to $100 million to support collaborations between the 21 academic centers. Members of the network will share data, expertise and technology with a view to accelerating the progress of programs out of the lab and into the clinic.

The network, dubbed the global cancer immunotherapy Centers of Research Excellence (imCORE), formalizes the links between Roche, Genentech and the academic centers. Roche is hoping linking and supporting the research sites will lead to new ideas about how to increase the proportion of patients who respond to cancer immunotherapies. So far, the effects of immunotherapies on tumors have ranged from very powerful to non-existent.

Roche is looking outside its walls for help solving the problem.

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“We believe the fastest way to advance progress against cancer is through collaboration, and consistent with our values, the goal of imCORE is to facilitate access to new technologies and emerging data among the top researchers around the world,” Roche CMO Dr Sandra Horning said in a statement.

The Swiss Big Pharma is putting up $100 million to support collaborations within the network. That sum, while tiny in the context of Roche’s $8 billion biopharma R&D budget, is meaningful for the type of projects being pursued within imCORE. The sweet spot for the network spans from basic research, through preclinical and into human studies. Roche plans to maximize the bang for its buck by pooling and sharing data generated by imCORE projects.

That approach is in keeping with the prevailing culture in oncology research since the White House’s Cancer Moonshot 2020 program shunted data sharing up the agenda. On paper, the model opens the door to advances downstream of the completion of a study by allowing a network of researchers to bring their own expertise and experience to the data.

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