Stanford Medicine to join new Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy
“Billionaire Sean Parker, famous for his founding roles at Napster and Facebook, is backing an unconventional $250 million effort to attack cancer that involves persuading hundreds of the country’s top scientists – who often are in competition with each other – to join forces and unify their research targets”, according to a news report published by WashingtonPost.
The six cancer centers include the University of California – Los Angeles, University of California – San Francisco, Stanford, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, University of Pennsylvania, and MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Immunotherapy, which enhances the body’s immune system to kill cancer cells, is best known these days because former president Jimmy Carter was on an immune-based drug treatment when he announced in December that there is no detectable cancer in his body.
“With the pioneering work being done at UCLA and the Parker Institute’s paradigm-shifting research model, we can dramatically accelerate the development of new treatments and potentially save the lives of millions of people”, Mazziotta said. “We’re concentrating funding around one area where we can have a huge impact”.
The Parker Institute aims to unify “research programs, intellectual property licensing, data collection, and clinical trials across multiple centers under the umbrella of a single non-profit biomedical research organization”, according to a press release. Billionaire shipping magnate Daniel Ludwig donated $540 million to six cancer centers in 2014 and Nike co-founder Phil Knight pledged $500 million to cancer researchers at Oregon Health & Science University in 2013. Types of cancer immunotherapy include monoclonal antibodies, immune checkpoint inhibitors, cancer vaccines, and other, non-specific immunotherapies.
“Twenty years from now, we should look back on cancer as something that our parents anxious about – and even though we’ll probably never live in a world without cancer, the treatments should be relatively easy and extremely effective – so it’s not something we have to worry about”, said Parker. “One company owns one, another owns another one, and never the twain shall meet”, says Crystal Mackall, director of the institute’s Stanford center.
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) A project to speed development of cancer-fighting drugs that harness the immune system has academic and drug industry researchers collaborating and sharing their findings like never before.
Sean Parker (L) and Jeffery Bluestone at the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy Scientific Retreat in St. Helena, Calif., April 4, 2016.
Dr. Jedd Wolchok, “Chief Of The Melanoma And Immunotherapeutic” unit at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center said that the new endeavor is a marked shifting in the process of cancer research.
Parker’s interest in cancer-a problem he describes as being inherently “hackable”-was sparked by the death of Laura Ziskin, a film producer and friend who died of breast cancer three years ago”. Pharmaceutical giants including Merck, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Genentech are also part of the collaboration.
It’s a similar strategy being implemented in Vice President Joe Biden’s Cancer Moonshot. Heading up the institute will be Jeff Bluestone, a UCSF biologist whose research in the ’90s helped create one of the first cancer immunotherapies