One technology to treat 
all cancers

A New Breakthrough Technology

Cancer immunotherapy leverages your body’s own defenses to treat cancer. It takes the always-on defense of your own immune system and trains it to recognize cancer cells as the harmful things they are, and to kill them. Not once, not for a little while, but always, forever, ongoing — it is a breathtaking new hope in the fight against cancer.

Not Enough Progress

Humans have battled cancer for ‎as long as we’ve existed. The earliest recorded use of term “cancer” dates to Hippocrates, the Greek father of medicine, in the 4th fourth century BC. It’s a history of triumph followed by tragedy, as promising breakthroughs failed to deliver cures. One in two men and one in three women will get cancer. We have spent $300 billion fighting this battle over the past forty years. The cost of this disease in human suffering is immeasurable. As a result of these efforts, half of all cancers are now treatable with chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery — the rest will kill you.

Why haven’t we cured cancer?

We have invested huge amounts of money and effort in the war against cancer. So why haven’t we won? A major reason is the enormity of the scientific challenge. We have made many research breakthroughs in the last decades, but each advance has underlined just how complex cancer really is.

Cancer is clever – it’s dynamic, constantly evolving and adapting to evade our attacks. It is not just one disease, but a collection of well over 100 related diseases. Even a single tumor is not static or simple to target. And the cancer tumor itself is not the only thing we need to focus on – the surrounding healthy cells and connective tissue play a role, further complicating the scientific picture. This complexity means that each patient’s cancer can act differently. That’s why immunotherapy turns to your own body to defeat the cancer.

A Smarter Way To Treat Cancer

Your body’s immune system is always hard at work, protecting you from the countless threats that surround you: viruses, bacteria, parasites. Once your immune system identifies something as harmful and “not you,” it is relentless in eradicating it. Many cancer cells are full of mutations, just like virally infected cells. So if the immune system is so good at recognizing mutations, what’s stopping it from killing cancer? 

Cancer is clever. It tricks your immune system into thinking it belongs — that it’s you. So your immune system doesn’t attack it, and the cancer cells are left to grow and multiply — that is, unless science lends a helping hand.

Immunotherapy does just that.

It takes the always-on defense of your own immune system and trains it to recognize cancer cells as the harmful things they are, and to kill them. Not once, not for a little while, but always, forever, ongoing — it is a breathtaking new hope in the fight against cancer.

The Parker Institute initially focuses on three major approaches:

T-cells are the immune system’s killing machines.

In cell therapies, the T-cells are removed from a patient, genetically engineered to recognize and kill cancer, multiplied a billion-fold, then put back into the body. These engineered T-cells not only kill cancer, they’re a standing cancer-killing army on guard in your body, constantly ready to attack again and again.

Immune checkpoints stop your body from attacking itself.

Your body has natural “brakes” on the immune system to prevent it from overreacting. But cancer hides behind these blockades, convincing your immune system that the brakes should stay on and immune cells shouldn’t be activated. Checkpoint inhibitors release these brakes so your immune system can attack and kill the cancer.

Immune enhancers guide the immune system toward cancer cells.

Using markers, specialized viruses, and other signals, these elaborate enhancers improve the immune system’s ability to recognize and reject cancer cells. These cancer immunotherapies are the first treatments complex and flexible enough to adapt alongside cancer, and ultimately overcome it.

Why Immunotherapy is different

Immunotherapy overcomes many of the major problems that other approaches have:

TargetingKills healthy tissue along with cancer cells
UnsystematicDoesn’t systematically search the whole body for spreading cancer cells
DurabilityDoes not “remember” cancer to prevent its return
DynamismCannot adapt its defenses as cancer cells grow and change
SynergiesWorks alone, not in tandem with other treatment types
PowerDoes not disrupt cancer’s entire support system
UniversalityCannot work for all types of cancer
Cure RatesLow cure rates–few patients survive 5 years
The Difference is Durability

Immunotherapy’s difference is in its durability. While traditional therapies may extend lives, the responses are often not durable – the disease progresses or recurs, often very quickly, and few lives are ultimately saved. Immunotherapies, on the other hand, can be curative and durable.  Patients with sufficient anti-cancer immunity achieve durable control over their disease, and many lives are saved, not just briefly extended.

A Technological Inflection Point

The field of cancer immunotherapy has made tremendous progress in just a few short years, much of it spearheaded by PICI’s scientists. We are at an inflection point – if we continue with business as usual, the pace of the return on investment in cancer research will slow. But given recent scientific discoveries and PICI’s pioneering organizational model, we can dramatically accelerate research breakthroughs and quickly get better treatments to patients.

Complexity Is The Major Challenge Ahead

  • 40+ Types of Cancer
  • 40+ Laboratory
  • 20+ Research
  • 50+ Immune
  • 250+ Companies
  • 100+ Research
  • 1000+ Clinical Trials
The Parker Institute Will Be A Powerful Organizing Force

The Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy brings together the best scientists, clinicians, and industry partners to build a smarter and more coordinated cancer immunotherapy research effort. Our goal is to enable real collaboration, accelerating the most ambitious research to deliver new immunotherapies engineered to save lives.

The Parker Institute is an unprecedented collaboration between the country’s leading immunologists and cancer centers:  Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Stanford University, University of California, Los Angeles, University of California, San Francisco, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

We bring together the worlds best. We are 6 centers, over 40 labs, and over 300 of the nation’s top researchers, all working together to cure cancer once and for all.