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Dr Patrick Soon-Shiong's Dream Team: The National Immunotherapy Coalition
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Dr Patrick Soon-Shiong's Dream Team: The National Immunotherapy Coalition

Surabhi Dangi-Garimella, PhD
The National Immunotherapy Coalition has coalesced leaders from large pharma, biotech, academic cancer centers, community oncologists, and a health plan, with the hope of accelerating the development path of next generation immunotherapy in oncology.
A collaboration between the who’s who of healthcare was announced on January 12, 2016, at the annual JP Morgan Healthcare Conference. With the hope of accelerating the development path of next generation immunotherapy in oncology, The National Immunotherapy Coalition has coalesced leaders from large pharma (Celgene and Amgen), biotech (NantWorks, NantKwest, Etubics, Altor Bioscience, and Precision Biologics), academic cancer centers, community oncologists, and the health plan Independence Blue Cross. This coalition forms the basis of The Cancer MoonShot 2020, with a robust backing from vice president Joe Biden.
 
Following are important features of the program:
  • Nation’s first insurance coverage of next generation whole genome sequencing and proteomic diagnostic platform in cancer patients
  • Next generation sequencing and precision medicine evolving from research to the clinical trial and cancer care setting
  • Coalition to design, initiate, and complete randomized clinical trials at all stages of cancer in up to 20 tumor types in as many as 20,000 patients in multiple phase 1 to 3 trials by year 2020
  • Beneficiaries and patients will undergo next-generation molecular sequencing and gain access to over 60 novel and approved molecules to be tested as immunotherapy combinations in 20,000 cancer patients with cancer across all tumor types: The QUILT Program
To further discuss this venture, Patrick Soon-Shiong, MD, founder and CEO of NantWorks, and the brain behind this entire operation, invited Dan Hilferty, president and CEO of the Independence Health group (parent company of Independence Blue Cross); and Paul Black, CEO, Allscripts Healthcare Solutions Inc, to participate on a panel at the Healthcare Conference on January 13, 2016.
 
“The president mentioned the moonshot in his State of the Union speech, which has put us on the stage and in the news,” said Soon-Shiong. “The opportunity to change healthcare forever, in the face of immunotherapy use, is upon us. It’s taken us 15 years to get here.” Explaining that our body has the innate capacity to immunize itself against infections as well as abnormal growth, he added, “I have personally struggled with the fact that we destroy our immune system with chemotherapy, and then boost the immune system with checkpoint inhibitors.”

He acknowledged the fact that this has been the dogma due to multiple reasons that include marketing plans, payments to be made, business decisions, etc. “We know that when you create a blockbuster, it treats only 20% of those who receive it…this is well known.” When a physician prescribes this treatment, Soon-Shiong added, he goes in blindly without knowing whether you fall under the responsive 20% or the unresponsive 80% of patients.



 
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