In the conference room of a spacious loft office near 30th Street Station, Usman “Oz” Azam and Michael Christiano huddle for a meeting. They’re CEO and chief business officer, respectively, of Tmunity Therapeutics, a start-up launched to commercialize some breakthrough research out of the University of Pennsylvania — a method of reengineering a patient’s own immune system cells so they can destroy cancer tumors.
[…] One floor below, in the same University of Pennsylvania building, scientists at the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy are working on what could become America’s first use of the genome-editing tool CRISPR in human beings, aimed at cancer. It’s funded in part by Sean Parker, the Internet billionaire played by Justin Timberlake in The Social Network (who gave $250 million to six medical schools and cancer centers). It’s not the only CRISPR venture in the city. Nearby, on Market Street, the start-up Excision BioTherapeutics is working to commercialize technology from Temple University that uses CRISPR to snip viruses such as HIV out of affected patients.