Oct 12 (Reuters) - The National Institutes of Health said on Thursday it had partnered 11 biopharma companies to help advance a new class of drugs that uses the body's immune system to fight cancer.
The five-year public-private research collaboration, called Partnership for Accelerating Cancer Therapies, includes drugmakers AbbVie, Roche Holding AG and Bristol-Myers Squibb.
The new class of immunotherapies, such as Roche's Tecentriq and Bristol-Myers' Opdivo, works by enlisting the body's defenses to fight the tumours.
Merck & Co Inc, whose Keytruda leads the fast-expanding field of immunotherapies, is not involved in the partnership.
Pfizer Inc, Johnson & Johnson, Amgen Inc , Celgene Corp, Gilead Sciences Inc and GlaxoSmithKline Plc are part of the effort, NIH said.
The 11 partners would contribute up to $1 million each year for five years, while NIH would add about $160 million, based on availability of funds.
The partnership will be managed by the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health.
Reporting by Divya Grover in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila