UPenn gets $12M grant for new cancer therapy center

The University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) has received a grant for $12 million from The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research to establish a new research center focused on investigating potential connections between novel forms of radiation therapy and immunotherapy.

The university's new Center for Immunotherapy, Immune Signaling, and Radiation has already planned five projects aimed at understanding the role of interferon and pattern recognition receptor signaling in combating cancer:

  • Identifying the genetics underlying interferons
  • Identifying the genetics underlying pattern recognition receptors
  • Determining whether super-concentrated "flash" radiation therapy benefits interferon and pattern recognition receptor signaling
  • Determining whether flash radiation therapy can help prime tumors for immunotherapy
  • Engineering chimeric antigen receptor T cells, which are associated with interferon signaling within tumors

"These projects have the chance to change the paradigm when it comes to cancer treatment," Dr. Andy Minn, PhD, associate professor of radiation oncology in Penn's Perelman School of Medicine, said in a statement from the university. "Understanding important and potentially targetable mechanisms of immunotherapy resistance and how to use novel radiation therapies to enhance immunotherapies carries enormous benefits for patients."

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