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Immunotherapy in the Spotlight

May 24, 2016

Cancer is the second-leading cause of death in the United States, resulting in almost one in four deaths, and as our population ages, cancer threatens to exact an even greater toll on us and our communities. Fortunately, the scientific community has rallied around an impressive foundation of knowledge―discovered largely through work funded by the Cancer Research Institute―about a powerful defense against cancer: our own immune systems.

Sensing the ripeness of the opportunity, billionaire tech entrepreneur Sean Parker launched the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy (PICI) with a $250 million grant. With the help of CRI and its scientists, PICI is seeking to harness the power of our immune systems, speed the development of new solutions, and, along with the efforts of the National Cancer Moonshot Initiative, help us "end cancer as we know it." Recently, Dateline NBC took a closer look at this revolution known as immunotherapy and Sean Parker’s plans to tap into its full potential.

PICI will be led by a scientific team that includes four members of CRI’s Scientific Advisory Council― director James P. Allison, Ph.D., associate director, Jedd Wolchok, M.D., Ph.D., Lewis Lanier, Ph.D., and Carl June, M.D.―as well as Antoni Ribas, M.D., Ph.D., a member of CRI’s CVC Trials Network. In addition to providing expert leadership, CRI will be heavily involved in one strategic research initiative in particular, that will focus on developing reliable tools to predict an individual patient’s tumor mutations. Such insights could enable scientists to create and test personalized therapeutic and even preventive treatments.

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*Immunotherapy results may vary from patient to patient.