AbbVie and MD Anderson are working together to develop new approaches and strategies in the field of immuno-oncology.  

The three-year collaboration will utilise MD Anderson's immunotherapy platform, which combines expertise and advanced technology for preclinical modelling, innovative clinical trials and immune monitoring, to 'efficiently' choose and carry out studies evaluating new ideas in the field.

AbbVie and MD Anderson will each assign two scientists to a joint scientific committee that decides which projects to pursue. 

Existing immunotherapy drugs have shown their ability to significantly extend survival in advanced melanoma and lung cancer, and are being tested in other cancer types. But Jim Allison, executive director of the immunotherapy platform and chair of Immunology at MD Anderson, stressed there are many more potential targets for drugs to mobilise the immune system to attack other cancers.

"Cancer immunotherapy drugs that remove two types of brakes on immune response are really just the tip of the iceberg for this field," Allison said. "Our agreements with companies such as AbbVie allow academic and industry scientists to work efficiently to move the science forward and extend this approach to more patients."

"Pairing MD Anderson's cutting-edge preclinical, translational and clinical capabilities with AbbVie's innovative discovery and development programs accelerates our ability to deliver new therapies that can help transform the lives of people affected by cancer," added Michael Severino, AbbVie’s chief scientific officer, commenting on the deal.