Stand Up To Cancer Awards $11M to Study Immune Response to Cancer

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Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) has announced a “Convergence 2.0” research initiative that awards $11 million to 7 multidisciplinary research teams to investigate immune system response to cancer. The multi-institutional teams were announced at SU2C’s Scientific Summit.

Each team comprises experts in life sciences, physical sciences, mathematics, and engineering and will have the opportunity to work collaboratively with Microsoft’s machine learning experts to discover key aspects of the interaction between cancer and the immune system. In addition to support from Microsoft, the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research committed $1.76 million in funding, and the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer will provide $1 million to support postdoctoral fellows on several teams.

Research Teams

The Computational Deconstruction of Neoantigen-TCR Degeneracy for Cancer Immunotherapy team, led by Benjamin Greenbaum, PhD, of Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and Vinod Balachandran, MD, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, will explore the underpinnings of pancreatic cancer survivorship.

The Single-Cell Functional Multi-omics to Characterize and Monitor CAR T Therapy team, led by Rong Fan, PhD, of Yale University, will investigate immunotoxicity and autoimmune-like responses. 

The Integrating Experimental and Computational Pipelines to Develop Biomarkers of Tumor Cell Resistance to NK Cells team, managed by Constantine Mitsiades, MD, PhD, of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, will study natural killer cells and their potent antitumor cell–killing properties.

The Correlating Immunologic Health to Cancer Susceptibility team, led by Mark Davis, PhD, of Stanford University, will analyze immune response to influenza vaccines and its possible correlation with cancer susceptibility.

The Connecting Immune Health and Tumor Biology in Gynecologic Cancers team, led by John Wherry, PhD, of the University of Pennsylvania, will investigate mismatch repair (MMR) deficiency and its ability to give rise to a weakened DNA structure, which leads to the accumulation of mutations.

The Responders and Nonresponders to Endometrial Cancers With MMR team, led by Alessandro Santin, MD, of Yale University School of Medicine, will research why only about one-half of all patients with MMR-deficient, microsatellite instability–high metastatic/recurrent tumors respond to anti–programmed cell death protein 1 treatment.

The Using Artificial Intelligence to Predict Molecular Pathways and Clinical Outcomes team, led by Ernest Fraenkel, PhD, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will further investigate how immunotherapy approaches can be expanded to more cancer types and patients. ■