“The Parker Institute collaboration is incredibly important,” Lynch says. “It brings together leading immunologists from six academic cancer centers in the United States who are focused on translating breakthrough research into I-O treatments that could make a difference for patients.”
One of the areas that Lynch hopes the collaboration will shed light on is why cold tumors, those that aren't recognized by the immune system and thus aren't infiltrated with immune cells, don't respond to I-O therapies. “We know that immunotherapies can be very active in some cancers—for example, melanoma, kidney cancer, squamous cell lung cancer and leukemia,” he says. “But we need to find out why we can’t generate a profound immune response in other cancers, such as estrogen receptor positive breast cancer, or colon cancer, or pancreatic cancer.”
Established in 2015 through a $250 million grant from The Parker Foundation, The Parker Institute collaboration is a boon for participating organizations. Operating under a common framework will streamline procedures to collect samples and response data; help manage the discovery of intellectual property as a shared resource; and coordinate clinical trials more efficiently and at a lower cost.
The Parker Institute published its first scientific paper in Nature on April 10, 2017. It details the work of scientists from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and the University of Philadelphia, who found that T-cell invigoration and tumor mutational burden are important factors in predicting patient response rates.