Roche launches cancer immunotherapy R&D network

Roche has launched a $100 million research network that aims to bring together the world’s experts in cancer immunotherapy, in order to find new treatments.

The imCORE network aims to quickly start pre-clinical and clinical research based on latest scientific discoveries, sharing and aggregating data to accelerate the search for cures for people with cancer.

Roche is currently the world’s number one company in the field of cancer, but hasn’t set the pace in immuno-oncology so far.

Rivals Bristol-Myers Squibb and Merck & Co and their respective checkpoint inhibitors Opdivo (nivolumab) and Keytruda (pembrolizumab) are the leaders, but Roche’s Tecentriq (atezolizumab) is set to be a strong contender across numerous tumour types.

The Swiss pharma company’s new network will help it compete in developing the next generation of immunotherapies.

It will identify approaches to expand the number of people who benefit from cancer immunotherapy, and explore new ways to activate the immune system to fight cancer, Roche added.

Roche will invest up to 100 million Swiss francs (around $98 million) to support the research collaborations.

The network will consist of scientists from 21 academic institutions in cancer immunotherapy, who will work together from scientists from Roche and its US Genentech unit.

Roche is researching personalised immunotherapies that aim to provide patients and doctors treatment options tailored to the specific immune biology of the person’s tumour.

It has around 20 drugs under development in this area, 10 of which are in clinical trials.

Roche’s chief medical officer, Sandra Horning, said: “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.”

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