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Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy
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Can we outsmart cancer by learning from the past?

Why This Research

We won the first battle. Checkpoint inhibition, a type of immunotherapy, is curing cancer for some patients. But we haven’t won the war. Many cancer patients don’t benefit from the treatment or only benefit in the short term.

At the root of the problem are the unknowns. The tumor microenvironment causes dozens of cell types to diverge from their natural behavior. This leads to an incomplete map of how the immune system activates against a tumor before and after a checkpoint inhibitor is administered.

How can we win a war without knowing cancer’s geography?

Enter PICI. We are using reverse translational medicine to fill in the gaps. By aggregating and integrating data generated from previous studies – our own and published data from others – we can see our enemy’s trends and build a smarter strategy for the next battle, and the one after that.

What We’re Doing

We want to learn from every patient that gets treated with anti-PD-(L)1 immunotherapy. And we want to make sure that we learn from past work. Our program REVIVE (REsistance to PD-1 by reVerse translational medicine to Identify noVEl combinations) uses new data and reuses, or “revives,” existing data to discover more effective treatments for patients who don’t respond to checkpoint inhibition.

In addition, we are taking advantage of new technology to measure the molecular makeup of single cells in greater granularity than ever before to reveal more about the underlying biology.

All this molecular and clinical data is integrated into a single platform to help us find new insights better and faster.

We assembled a cadre of top academic, industry and nonprofit leaders, who are now tackling immunotherapy resistance from many different angles across a number of cancer types.

Together, we are:

  • Compiling already-published molecular and clinical data on patients who have been treated with checkpoint inhibition, including anti-PD-(L)1 immunotherapy
  • Uncovering differences in HLA genes, which are essential in immune activation, between checkpoint responders and non-responders
  • Identifying different subgroups of patients who become resistant to anti-PD-1
  • Studying PD-1 resistance at the single cell level
  • Examining the role of genetics in the body’s response to PD-1 treatment

By building our understanding of tumor and immune biology, we can design robust, science-driven clinical trials to bring new treatments to more patients more quickly–especially those with hard-to-treat tumor types.


Meet the scientists and clinicians leading the charge:

PICI Researchers