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Johns Hopkins launches $125 million cancer immunotherapy institute

por Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter | April 01, 2016
Rad Oncology Population Health
Johns Hopkins
via Wikimedia Commons
The launch of the Bloomberg~Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy was announced today at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. The institute will study immunology with the goal to cure all forms of cancer.

Michael R. Bloomberg, three-time mayor of New York City, and the founder of Jones Apparel Group, Sidney Kimmel, each contributed $50 million to the institute. A dozen additional supporters also gave $25 million.

Immunotherapy is a kind of cancer treatment that works by boosting the body's natural defenses to fight cancer. It leverages materials that are either made by the body or in a lab to improve the function of the patient's immune system.

It's one of the core aspects of the Obama administration's National Cancer Moonshot initiative to cure cancer, which was discussed in his final State of the Union address. The initiative is working to improve access to data, facilitate collaborations between researchers, physicians, philanthropies, patients, patient advocates and biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies.

The new institute will strengthen Johns Hopkins' existing cancer immunology program and bring their experts together with over 100 other experts in the fields of immunology, genetics, microbiology and biomedical engineering.

"This new institute will build on the pioneering work that doctors and researchers at Johns Hopkins have done in immunotherapy and help fuel new advances and discoveries," Kimmel said in a statement.

The funds donated to the institute will mostly be used for research, but it will also be used to recruit additional scientists, provide additional infrastructure for engineering cellular products for immunotherapy research, strengthen partnerships with the private sector and invest in technology development like new approaches to profile the immune response in a tumor.

Dr. Drew Pardoll, the institute's inaugural director, believes that the institute will advance immunotherapies to the point where the immune system will ultimately be able to beat 100 percent of cancers.

"The potential to control or cure even the most advanced, treatment-resistant cancers has been elusive until now," he added.

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