Two global cancer vaccine initiatives are to combine forces to speed up treatment breakthroughs.
The Cancer Vaccine Consortium and the Cancer Vaccine Collaborative will unite under the umbrella of the non-profit Cancer Research Institute in a bid to help to academia, industry, and government research agencies.

The Cancer Vaccine Consortium is an international association of 67 pharmaceutical, biotechnology and academic institutions. The Cancer Vaccine Collaborative is a coordinated global network of 22 academic clinical and laboratory centres.

Dr Axel Hoos, head of Immuno-Oncology at Bristol-Myers Squibb and co-chairman of the Cancer Vaccine Consortium Executive Committee, hailed the decision to bring the two together. "Based on the Consortium's track record of bringing stakeholders together, identifying needs, and addressing them through focused initiatives, the alliance with CRI promises growth and delivery of further concrete solutions," he said.

Dr Lloyd Old, director of the Cancer Research Institute Scientific Advisory Council, said: "The time is ripe for stronger alliances between academia and industry. Integrating the clinical trials network of the CRI/LICR Cancer Vaccine Collaborative with the strengths of the pharmaceutical, biotech, and academic membership of the Cancer Vaccine Consortium will allow the CRI to present a single, united front on cancer vaccines to the scientific and medical communities."

An official statement said the joint enterprise would:
1) Host scientific conferences on cancer vaccines and other immunotherapies
2) Form alliances with academic and industrial organisations across the globe
3) Facilitate dialogue with regulatory bodies
4) Develop standards ways of measuring the immune response to cancer vaccination and establish surrogate biological markers
5) Manage the production and acquisition of reagents for clinical trials of cancer vaccines
6) Continue support for the existing international network of academic laboratory and clinical investigators conducting early-phase cancer vaccine trials

The development comes as the European Union prepares to release its major report on cancer next week (7 February). The document, to be discussed by EU health ministers at a meeting in Ljubljana on 7 and 8 February, will focus on significant differences between the member states in relation to cancer prevention and access to services.

The new report is also likely to stress how the number of new cancer patients diagnosed each year will rise by 20% in the 18-year period between 2002 and 2020, simply due to population growth and ageing, putting significant pressure on health systems and economies of each EU country.