Cancerous tumors carry certain markers called neoantigens and Facebook billionaire Sean Parker wants to use algorithms to find them.
To do so, the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy will work with more than 30 public and private pharmaceutical, biotech, cancer research nonprofits and academic institutions through a partnership with the Cancer Research Institute to use predictive algorithms to help uncover new cancer neoantigens found coded in DNA.
These neoantigens are only present on tumors and are specific to individuals, making them perfect targets for new immunotherapy treatments and VP of clinical development at the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy Ramy Ibrahim calls it “an important first step in accelerating immunotherapy research.”
This isn’t the first concerted effort in cancer research for Parker’s cancer institute, which is set up as a collaborative endeavor between six research universities and cancer centers already in place. However, the partnership with the Cancer Research Institute will specifically focus on using bioinformatics to uncover these cancer markers.
The institutions taking part in this new effort include such prestigious organizations as the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Caltech, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and the Washington University School of Medicine, just to name a few.
Each participating group will receive genetic sequences from both cancerous and non-cancerous tissues and then they will be tasked with finding and validating through testing which ones are likely to be correct and recognizable by T-cells. If all goes according to plan, the participants will then gain the needed data to make a possible cancer vaccine.
Parker has already donated $250 million to his research institute, with the goal of enabling some of the country’s best researchers unprecedented access to the latest information from pharma and from each other in cancer immunotherapy. This latest endeavor hopes to further the work of Parker’s initial vision.
“Bringing together the world’s best neoantigen research organizations to accelerate the discovery of personalized cancer immunotherapies is exactly the type of bold research collaboration that I envisioned when launching the Parker Institute,” Parker said. “This alliance will not only leverage the immense talents of each of the researchers but will also harness the power of bioinformatics, which I believe will be critical to driving breakthroughs.”