Entrepreneur Sean Parker has launched a $ 250 million collaboration to fight cancer.
It’s file-sharing for a cure.
Silicon Valley billionaire and Napster cofounder Sean Parker is donating $ 250 million toward a revolutionary project bringing cancer researchers together to pool their research in fighting the disease like never before.
The new Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy announced on Wednesday will focus on funding immunotherapy treatments that trigger the body’s own immune system to fight cancer cells, which has shown fewer and less serious side effects than the traditional chemo and radiation therapies that can cause vomiting, extreme fatigue, hair loss, sores and memory loss.
“We are at an inflection point in cancer research, and now is the time to maximize immunotherapy’s unique potential to transform all cancers into manageable diseases, saving millions of lives,” Parker said in a statement. “We believe that the creation of a new funding and research model can overcome many of the obstacles that currently prevent research breakthroughs.”
The new network brings more than 40 laboratories and 300 researchers and immunologists from leading cancer centers under one umbrella, including Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York, Stanford University, the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and the University of Pennsylvania.
And everyone will share the glory.
The “unprecedented collaboration,” according to the foundation’s website, unifies the research programs, intellectual property licensing, data collection and clinical trials from these centers to quickly turn their findings into patient treatments.
“Any breakthrough made at one center is immediately available to another center without any kind of IP (intellectual property) entanglements or bureaucracy,” Parker told Reuters.
A “scientific steering committee” with members from each Parker Institute research center, as well as representatives from the foundation, will review potential licensing deals, set a research agenda and coordinate teams. Patented discoveries made by the member research centers will be shared 50-50 with the institute.
Parker (l.) and Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy president Jeffery Bluestone (r.) are working to speed development of cancer-fighting immunotherapy drugs.
Each Parker Institute Center has agreed to join the research effort for at least seven years, and has already received $ 10 million to $ 15 million in initial funding, SFGate.com reported.
Dr. Jedd Wolchok, chief of Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Immunotherapuetics, told the Daily News that the “team science” collaborative model is the way forward in cancer research.
“Many of us who are involved in the Parker Institute, laboratory researchers as well as oncologists, see the cancer problem every day,” he said. “So if you’re presented with the opportunity to join forces and try to find answers more quickly, the imperative is there, and the enthusiasm is there, to make progress.”Cancer is the leading cause of death worldwide, according to the World Health Organization, with 8.2 million cancer-related deaths reported each year.
Immunotherapy is a hot topic in cancer research right now. Johns Hopkins launched a $ 125 million immunotherapy research center last month. Immunotherapy is also part of vice president Joe Biden’s $ 1 billion “moonshot to cure cancer” proposal.
“Immunotherapy represents a fundamentally new, breakthrough treatment paradigm in the fight against cancer – it harnesses the body’s own powerful immune system to mobilize its highly refined disease-fighting arsenal to engage and eliminate the cancer cells,”said Jeff Bluestone, a professor at UCSF who was appointed president of the Parker Institute. “Parker Institute scientists at all six centers are leaders in the field and will now work together to make discoveries to treat and potentially cure cancer.”
Parker, a 36-year-old entrepreneur and former Facebook president, established The Parker Foundation in 2015 to give money toward life sciences, global health causes and civic engagement, including $ 10 million toward a new autoimmunity research lab at the University of California San Franciso last November, and $ 24 million toward Stanford University’s allergy research center.
But he was inspired by his late friend Laura Ziskin, a Hollywood producer known for “Pretty Woman” and the founder of the Stand Up To Cancer charity, with showing him the need to overhaul cancer research. She died of the disease in 2011.
“Losing Laura transformed me,” he told Reuters.