Cancer Research Institute Awards $10 Million in Grants to Advance Immune-Based Treatments for Cancer
Nonprofit funding to accelerate laboratory and clinical research to develop next-generation cancer immunotherapies
NEW YORK, NY — August 13, 2012 — Cancer Research Institute, Inc. (CRI), the oldest and largest nonprofit funder of global research efforts to discover and develop immunotherapies to prevent, treat, and eventually cure all cancers, announced today that it has committed more than $10 million in new funds to accelerate cancer immunology research and cancer immunotherapy clinical development at research centers worldwide. The grants will provide critical support for clinical and translational studies by leading investigators aimed at testing and improving cancer immunotherapies for patients, as well as for research and training for promising young predoctoral and postdoctoral fellows seeking to understand how the cancer-fighting powers of the immune system can be harnessed to develop safer and more effective cancer immunotherapies for patients.
“As the only nonprofit funder dedicated exclusively to furthering the science and clinical application of cancer immunology, Cancer Research Institute is excited and proud to support such highly promising studies and investigators,” says James P. Allison, Ph.D., director of the CRI Scientific Advisory Council. “This work stands at the leading edge of cancer immunology and immunotherapy research, and will play a critical role in furthering the transformation already under way, as more immunotherapies succeed in extending and saving the lives of cancer patients and take their place at the front lines of cancer treatment.”
Supported research will focus on some of the most critical questions and innovative approaches in cancer immunology and immunotherapy, including:
targeting immunosuppression in the tumor microenvironment to improve outcomes for difficult-to-treat cancers, such as pancreatic cancer
developing and optimizing novel immunotherapy techniques, including bispecific antibodies for the treatment of brain cancer and genetically engineered T cell therapy for leukemia and lymphoma
combining targeted therapy with immune checkpoint blockade to improve treatment for melanoma
using genomics-based approaches to predict patient responses to anti-CTLA-4 checkpoint blockade immunotherapy and develop personalized vaccines for cancer patients
reengineering antibodies to enhance T cell activation to eradicate tumors
Funds will also support clinical investigators, manufacturing and safety testing of clinic-grade vaccine treatments, and early-phase clinical trials of novel cancer vaccines and immunotherapies for patients.
With this round of funding, support committed by CRI for its research programs over the past fiscal year (July 1, 2011, to June 30, 2012) totals nearly $12.8 million. This figure includes more than $3.5 million committed through partnerships with other cancer nonprofits to advance innovative cancer immunotherapy research, including $3 million to co-fund a Cancer Immunology Translational Research Dream Team with Stand Up To Cancer. This Dream Team will be composed of leading scientists from multiple institutions and disciplines as well as patient advocates who will work together to advance a new and promising immunotherapy toward clinical testing.
“Strategic partnerships with other cancer research nonprofits are a powerful means to leverage CRI’s funding and expertise in cancer immunology to have a greater impact in the fight against cancer,” says Jill O’Donnell-Tormey, Ph.D., CRI’s chief executive officer and director of scientific affairs. “We are excited to work with Stand Up To Cancer to accelerate new research that will benefit patients in the near term, and we look forward to partnering with other nonprofits to realize further the potential of immunotherapy to transform the treatment of all cancers.”
The grants awarded in fiscal year 2012 also include the inaugural Lloyd J. Old Memorial Fellowships in Cancer Immunology, named in honor of CRI’s founding scientific and medical director, who died of advanced prostate cancer in November 2011.
Brian M. Brewer
Cancer Research Institute
+212.688.7515, ext. 242
About the Cancer Research Institute
The Cancer Research Institute (CRI), established in 1953, is the world’s only nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to transforming cancer patient care by advancing scientific efforts to develop new and effective immune system-based strategies to prevent, diagnose, treat, and eventually cure all cancers. Guided by a world-renowned Scientific Advisory Council that includes three Nobel laureates and 30 members of the National Academy of Sciences, CRI has invested more than $225 million in support of research conducted by immunologists and tumor immunologists at the world’s leading medical centers and universities, and has contributed to many of the key scientific advances that demonstrate the potential for immunotherapy to change the face of cancer treatment. To learn more, go to www.cancerresearch.org