Sean Parker’s cancer project claims major discovery with blood tests

Test developed by Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy may determine if patients will respond to treatment.
By Bill Siwicki
02:07 PM
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Technology billionaire Sean Parker’s Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy collaboration has come up with its first major discovery in the cancer field. Scientists working with the institute may have uncovered a blood test method for predicting whether melanoma patients will respond to targeted treatments for the programmed cell death protein (PD-1) pathway in tumors, a paper in the journal Nature claims.

This test is not a cure for the disease. But it could benefit industry observers keeping their eyes on what exactly Parker’s organization can accomplish. The Nature paper is the first paper from the institute and could suggest what this collaborative method can accomplish when it comes to efforts to cure cancer.

Parker, previously president of Facebook, convinced hundreds of leading scientists at U.S. research universities to band together to combat cancer through the latest immunotherapy. Parker invested $250 million of his own fortune in the effort.

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Memorial Sloan-Kettering and University of Pennsylvania scientists worked together on the effort and discovered that blood biomarker levels versus mutational load potentially could predict whether a cancer patient will be responsive to treatment. 

In other work, biotech company Grail is focusing efforts on a long-term research project to detect cancer through blood tests. And Verily, a life sciences company of Alphabet, has attempted a few similar projects.

Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT