Bristol-Myers Squibb and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have signed a pact to advance onco-immunology research in to rare cancers.

The move comes under the Immuno-Oncology Rare Population Malignancy (I-O RPM) programme in the US, with Dana-Farber Cancer Institute becoming the latest leading, academic-based cancer center to join.

The I-O RPM programme is a multi-institutional initiative with Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University and the Northwestern Medicine Developmental Therapeutics Institute, Moffitt Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center and now Dana-Farber.

It focuses on the clinical investigation of immuno-oncology therapeutics as potential treatment options for patients with high risk, poor prognostic cancers, defined as a rare population malignancy, and builds on BMS’ formation in 2012 of the International Immuno-Oncology Network (II-ON), a global collaboration between the firm and academia to facilitate the translation of scientific research findings into clinical trials and practice.

As part of the I-O RPM programme, BMS and Dana-Farber will conduct a range of early phase clinical studies and the drug giant will also support training of young investigators who contribute at the Cancer Institute.