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Boston University and J&J Innovation announce five-year alliance around lung cancer prevention and treatment


By David Schwartz
Published: June 12th, 2018

Boston University and Johnson & Johnson Innovation LLC announced a five-year alliance with a long-term vision to defeat lung cancer. They are creating a Johnson & Johnson Innovation Lung Cancer Center on the BU campus. In addition, Avrum Spira, MD, BU professor of medicine, pathology and bioinformatics, has been hired by J&J Innovation as global head of its Lung Cancer Initiative and will direct the new center.

“Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide, and the healthcare burden and costs associated with the disease are substantial,” said Bill Hait, MD, PhD, J&J’s global head of external innovation. The company’s recent Lung Cancer Initiative, he noted, is “dedicated to transforming the standard of care for this devastating disease. We are excited to be collaborating with Boston University in this important mission and bringing the research and development expertise of our consumer, medical device, and pharmaceutical groups together to address this critical need for patients around the world.”

Lung cancer is the most prolific killer of men and women in the U.S., accounting for more deaths that colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined. Worldwide incidence also remains – China, for example, was 730,000 new cases in 2015, with incidence rates still rising. Along with high incidence rates, lung cancer also has very low five-year survival rates compared with other common cancers.

“To address the major clinical needs of this disease, as well as its economic impact, a new approach is needed,” said Spira. “Building solutions that prevent and intercept disease requires very close collaboration between academic researchers and industry. We need better and more rapid alignment of discovery with clinical application and development experience to bring forward important new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches. The alliance with Boston University and other collaborations around the world will help identify novel technologies and approaches that support this new vision,” he stated.

The alliance seeks to build upon collaborative programs related to three extensive lung cancer studies.  Two studies, involving cohorts of military personnel, are attempting to identify molecular and imaging-based biomarkers to improve lung cancer detection. In the third study, known as the pre-cancer genome atlas (PCGA), investigators are tracking and defining determinants of premalignant disease progression to enable development of molecularly targeted interception strategies.

The BU/J&J academic-industry alliance will focus on prevention, interception, and cure. A primary goal is using biomarker innovations to detect lung cancer at its earliest and most curable stage.

Source: PR Newswire

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