Life Sciences

The Immunotherapy Dream Team

The Opportunity

Despite a four-decade war against cancer and over $150 billion in research investment, five-year survival rates are virtually unchanged from 20 years ago in most types of cancer. In 2014, more than 1.6 million Americans were diagnosed, and close to 600,000 died from cancer. By 2030, cancer is expected to surpass heart disease to become the leading cause of death in the United States.

Immunotherapy is the only approach that has ever demonstrated an ability to generate durable remissions even in advanced tumors, but there are significant financial and organizational barriers to success. Immunotherapy-related research will receive less than 4% of the National Cancer Institute’s $4.9 billion cancer research budget in 2015, and the pharmaceutical industry’s R&D pipeline remains significantly focused on novel chemo and “targeted” agents.


The Program

Through the support from Sean Parker, Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) and the Cancer Research Institute (CRI) formed an Immunology Research Dream Team dedicated to cancer immunology: “Immunologic Checkpoint Blockade and Adoptive Cell Transfer in Cancer Therapy.” The Immunotherapy Dream Team is focused on two approaches for this translational cancer research project, which will unite laboratory and clinical efforts towards the immunological treatment, control and prevention of cancer. The first is investigating blockades (by inhibitory molecules called “checkpoints”) of T lymphocytes’ inhibitory receptors, which block immune responses; and the use of antibodies to remove the checkpoints, once again allowing white blood cells called T lymphocytes to kill the cancer cells. Second, the Immunotherapy Dream Team is pursuing multiple adoptive cell transfer (ACT) approaches, which increase immunity.

Leadership

James P. Allison, PhD

  • The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Antoni Ribas, MD, PhD

  • University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Drew M. Pardoll, MD, PhD

  • Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center

Cassian Yee, MD

  • The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

David Baltimore, PhD

  • California Institute of Technology

Glenn Dranoff, MD

  • Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Philip D. Greenberg, MD

  • Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Michel Sadelain, MD, PhD

  • Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

Ton Schumacher, PhD

  • Netherlands Cancer Institute

Jedd D. Wolchok, MD, PhD

  • Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center