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Cancer Research Institute, Parker Institute Launch Cancer Neoantigen Research Consortium

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The Cancer Research Institute (CRI) and the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy announced today that they are forming a research consortium focusing on neoantigen biomarkers.

The new consortium — called the Tumor Neoantigen Selection Alliance (TESLA) — will promote research on these mutation-driven cell surface markers, which make attractive drug target candidates are they are not found in normal tissue. Neoantigens are also unique to the individual, making them potential targets for personalized cancer immunotherapies, such as cancer vaccines.

Joining the two institutes are 30 cancer neoantigen research groups from both academia and industry, including the Broad Institute, the California Institute of Technology, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Washington University School of Medicine, the National Cancer Centre Singapore, and the Netherlands Cancer Institute. Biotech and pharma organizations include Amgen, Genentech, AstraZeneca, and Bristol-Myers Squibb. The Parker Institute and CRI have also tapped Sage Bionetworks to manage bioinformatics and data analysis for TESLA.

"The goal of the initiative is to help participating groups test and continually improve the mathematical algorithms they use to analyze tumor DNA and RNA sequences in order to predict the neoantigens that are likely to be present on each patient's cancer and most visible to the immune system," the partners said in a statement.

The alliance has the potential to "help us more precisely identify abnormal proteins in an individual's tumor that can be used as targets for personalized cancer immunotherapy," Washington University in St. Louis Professor Robert Schreiber added.

TESLA will initially focus on advanced melanoma, colorectal cancer, and non-small cell lung cancer. The partners expect to recruit more institutional participants as the project progresses.

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