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Jackson Laboratory Receives $2.5M Grant to Study Influence of Host Genetics on Immunotherapy

NEW YORK – The Jackson Laboratory announced on Wednesday that it has received $2.5 million from the Mark Foundation for Cancer Research to study the influence of host genetics on response to immunotherapy.

The researchers, who are conducting the study in mice, are aiming to generate new insights on which cancer patients will respond positively to immunotherapies, based on their genetic backgrounds. The project, "Dissecting the Genetic Control of Response to Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors in Cancer," has implications for how oncologists prescribe a treatment regimen, the lab noted.

JAX President and CEO Edison Liu and Associate Professor Laura Reinholdt will act as co-principal investigators of the study. They will use genetically diverse JAX mouse models to elucidate the relationship between genetics and response to immunotherapies. The project will examine four different tumor lines — a melanoma tumor, a triple-negative breast cancer tumor, and two types of colon cancer tumors — which were chosen to represent a wide range of responses to immunotherapy.

"This research may one day allow doctors to use genetic sequencing to predict patient response to immunotherapy, as well as help scientists develop more effective anti-cancer drugs that fight tumors by activating an immune response," Liu said in a statement.

"This project is providing a unique opportunity to harness natural genetic variation in laboratory mice to more accurately model the biological complexity of cancer treatment response. The power of these genetically diverse mouse strains is that they facilitate genetic discovery and they provide tractable in vivo systems for dissecting molecular pathways, which are essential for the identification of biomarkers and potentially new therapeutic targets," Reinholdt added.

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