Research Institutes

A disruptive billionaire with a yen for innovation herds top researchers into a neoantigen cancer coalition

Sean Parker

One of the hottest fields in cancer research that’s been breeding a slew of startups now has its own collaborative effort underway to help investigators march forward at a faster and more certain pace.

The field is neoantigens, and the collaborative is the latest brainchild of The Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy and its partners at the Cancer Research Institute. Dubbed TESLA, for Tumor neoantigEn SeLection Alliance (a twist on acronyms), the coalition will bring together academic and industry researchers who will use their own, individual algorithms to spot the unique neoantigens that appear on individual patients’ cancer cells in order to develop a personalized cell therapy specifically for that individual.

They’ll then run the tests needed to see which algorithms are most likely to be right, spotting the most antigens most likely to attract a T cell attack. And they can hone their skills and their algorithms in the process in a pre-competitive alliance.

The collaborative group will marry some of the top research centers, like the Broad and Dana-Farber, with a who’s who in neoantigen biotechs, including Bristol-Myers Squibb, Neon Therapeutics and BioNTech. And the open science zealots at Sage Bionetworks will handle the bioinformatics and data analysis.

“Bringing together the world’s best neoantigen research organizations to accelerate the discovery of personalized cancer immunotherapies is exactly the type of bold research collaboration that I envisioned when launching the Parker Institute,” said FaceBook mogul Sean Parker, who’s been making waves in cancer research by prodding researchers to pool their work while spurring new projects in gene editing and more. “This alliance will not only leverage the immense talents of each of the researchers but will also harness the power of bioinformatics, which I believe will be critical to driving breakthroughs.”

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