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Create an Adult Immunotherapy Network

NCI has announced several funding opportunities that align with the Cancer Moonshot.

See Funding Opportunities

Immunotherapy leverages the ability of the immune system to recognize and destroy infected, damaged, and transformed cells. This type of cancer treatment often enhances the activity of immune cells called ‘effector T cells’, whose function is to kill cancer cells by distinguishing them from their normal counterparts. However, barriers remain and need to be addressed to improve the effectiveness of immunotherapy.

While there has been some promising success in treating certain cancers with immunotherapy, it has been less effective in others. It is often more difficult to safely and effectively target the cancer cells in solid tumors without harming normal tissues. The tumor’s microenvironment may also suppress the immune system, limiting its ability to fight off the cancer.

This recommendation is focused on creating an adult cancer immunotherapy translational network to overcome these barriers and develop immunotherapies that are effective for a diverse group of patients with various cancer types. In addition, the network aims to create vaccines that will aid effector T cells in recognizing cancers in their premalignant stages, effectively preventing new cancer cases.

Ultimately, the hope is to develop new immunotherapies and improve the effectiveness of current immunotherapy treatments to reduce the burden of cancer in adults.

NCI has awarded funding to several research projects that align with the panel's recommendation to address immunotherapy in adults:

The Immuno-Oncology Translational Network (IOTN)

This collaborative network is working to accelerate the discovery of new immune targets for cancer treatments and the development of new immunotherapies to treat and prevent adult cancers.

Researchers working on IOTN Immunotherapy Research Projects are investigating interactions between tumors and the immune system, identifying new targets for immunotherapies, examining the development of resistance to immunotherapies, and testing new immunotherapies in preclinical studies.

IOTN Immunoprevention Research Projects are identifying targets for immunoprevention approaches in pre-cancers and designing early interventions, like cancer vaccines, to prevent high-risk adult cancers.

Investigators with the IOTN Immuno-Engineering to Improve Immunotherapy (i3) Centers are using bioengineering and systems biology approaches to design more effective, safer, and broadly available immunotherapies.

IOTN Research Projects for Mitigating Immune-Related Adverse Events are investigating ways to eliminate or reduce harmful side effects caused by immunotherapies.

The network includes a Cellular Immunotherapy Data Resource (CIDR) that collects information about patients receiving cell-based immunotherapies, which can inform future preclinical and clinical studies of immunotherapeutic treatments.

The IOTN Data Management and Resource Sharing Center (DMRC) supports the data analysis needs of the IOTN, promotes collaboration between IOTN investigators, and outreach of the network to the cancer research community.

More information about the network can be found at the IOTN website.

NCI Center for Cell-Based Therapy (CCT)

NCI created a Center for Cell-Based Therapy that focuses on the use of living immune cells for cancer immunotherapies. Its mission is to support the discovery and development of new cellular immunotherapies to treat patients with cancer. The center is performing basic research of cell-based cancer therapies, accelerating translation of cell-based immunotherapy findings to the clinic, training scientists for immunotherapy studies, and providing cancer researchers with access to immunotherapy-related technologies.

Cancer Immune Monitoring and Analysis Centers (CIMACs) and the Cancer Immunologic Data Commons (CIDC)

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) supports multidisciplinary network that encompasses four Cancer Immune Monitoring and Analysis Centers (CIMACs) and a single Cancer Immunologic Data Commons (CIDC). The Network is established to address the critical importance of biomarkers in the management of cancer patients receiving immunotherapy. Specifically, each CIMAC encompasses a multidisciplinary group with basic, translational, clinical, and computational research expertise. CIMACs are expected to provide a wide range of state-of-the-art analyses for genomic, phenotypic and functional characterization of responses of patients in the NCI-funded early phase immunotherapy trials using analytically-validated and standardized platforms. The Network activities will be facilitated by the CIDC in the following main areas: optimization of data collection methodologies suitable for immune-related biomarkers, data integration and building a biomarker database for the secondary use by the large immuno-oncology community. The long-term goal of the CIMACs-CIDC Network is to develop a database for molecular signatures that define immune response categories to correlate with the clinical outcomes of immunotherapy in cancer. Collectively, the outcome of the Network research should lead to the identification of biomarkers with a translational potential for optimizing the therapeutic strategies for patients.

More information about the network can be found at the CIMAC-CIDC website.

Adult Immunotherapy Projects Awarded Cancer Moonshot Funding

Awarded Projects
Funding Opportunity Project Title Institution Principal Investigator(s)
Immuno-Oncology Translational Network (IOTN): Cancer Immunotherapy Research Projects (U01) Enhancing Cell Therapy for Brain Tumors Children's Research Institute Bollard, Catherine M; Cruz, Conrad Russell Young; Jones, Richard J; Savoldo, Barbara
B Cell-Dependent Anti-Tumor Immunity in Ovarian Cancer H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute Conejo-Garcia, Jose R
N-Glycosylation and Immunotherapy for Cancer University of California - Irvine Demetriou, Michael
Immunosuppressive Mechanisms Responsible for Development of Non-Viral Liver Cancer and Control of its Response to Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors University of California - San Diego Karin, Michael; El-Khoueiry, Anthony Boutros; Tsukamoto, Hidekazu; Shalapour, Shabnam
Muc1-C is a Target for Reversing Immune Evasion and Resistance to Immunotherapies Dana Farber Cancer Institute Kufe, Donald W; Wong, Kwok Kin
Immunomodulation of the Tumor Microenvironment with Molecular Targeted Radiotherapy to Facilitate an Adaptive Anti-Tumor Immune Response to Combined Modality Immunotherapies University of Wisconsin - Madison Morris, Zachary Scott; Weichert, Jamey P
Stimulating Neo-Antigen Specific T Cell Responses in Head and Neck Cancers La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology Schoenberger, Stephen Philip; Gutkind, J Silvio; Rao, Anjana
Targeting the Immunosuppressive Tumor Microenvironment to Enhance Efficacy of Radiotherapy and Immuno-radiotherapy for Oral Cancer Baylor College of Medicine Sikora, Andrew Gregory; Annapragada, Ananth V
Molecular and Immune Drivers of Immunotherapy Responsiveness in Prostate Cancer Dana Farber Cancer Institute Van Allen, Eliezer M; Fong, Lawrence
Targeting Alternative Splicing for TCR Discovery in Small Cell Carcinomas University of California - Los Angeles Witte, Owen N; Crooks, Gay M; Xing, Yi
Epithelium-derived Alarmins Role in Breast Cancer Immunoprevention Massachusetts General Hospital Demehri, Shadmehr
Neoantigen Vaccination for Lynch Syndrome Immunoprevention Weill Medical College of Cornell University Lipkin, Steven M; Vilar-Sanchez, Eduardo
Immuno-Oncology Translation Network (IOTN): Data Management and Resource-Sharing Center (DMRC) (U24) Immuno-Oncology Translation Network: Data Management and Resource-Sharing Center at RPCI Roswell Park Cancer Institute Hutson, Alan David; Liu, Song; Morgan, Martin T; Odunsi, Kunle O
Immuno-Oncology Translation Network (IOTN): Cellular Immunotherapy Data Resource (CIDR) (U24) Immuno-Oncology Translation Network (IOTN): Cellular Immunotherapy Data Resource (CIDR) Medical College of Wisconsin Horowitz, Mary Maresca
Canine Immunotherapy Trials and Correlative Studies (U01) Canine Immuno Neurotherapeutics University of Alabama at Birmingham Chambers, M.R.
Enhancing the Efficacy of Immunotherapy in DLBCL using Rational Combination Approaches Tufts University London, Cheryl A; Richards, Kristy L
Novel Combined Immunotherapeutic Strategies for Glioma: Using Pet Dogs as a Large Animal Spontaneous Model University of Minnesota Pluhar, Grace Elizabeth
Enhancing Natural Killer Immunotherapy with First-in-Dog Trials of Inhaled Recombinant IL-15 and Super-agonist IL-15 in Naturally Occurring Canine Cancers University of California at Davis Canter, Robert; Rebhun, Robert
Optimizing Novel Immunotherapy Combinations Targeting the Tumor Microenvironment in Canine Spontaneous Osteosarcoma Colorado State University Dow, Steven W; London, Cheryl A
Coordinating Center for Canine Immunotherapy Trials and Correlative Studies (U24) Coordinating Center for Canine Immunotherapy Trials and Correlative Studies University of Pennsylvania Mason, Nicola J; Propert, Kathleen Jjoy
Consortium for Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma (PDAC) Translational Studies on the Tumor Microenvironment (U01) Interrupting Cellular Crosstalk in the Immunosuppressive Microenvironment of Pancreas Cancer University of Michigan Crawford, Howard C; Pasca Di Magliano, Marina
Systematic Interrogation of the Pancreatic Cancer Microenvironment in Patient-Derived Specimens Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Hahn, William C
Defining Neoantigen Immunodominance for Antigen Selection and Biomarker Discovery in Human Pancreatic Cancer Immunotherapy Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research Balachandran, Vinod P; Leach, Steven D 
Disrupting the Immune and Drug-Privileged Microenvironment in Pancreas Cancer Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Hingorani, Sunil R 
Reprogramming Pdac Tumor Microenvironment to Improve Immunotherapy Massachusetts General Hospital Jain, Rakesh K; Pittet, Mikael
Resource Center for the Consortium for Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma (PDAC) Translational Studies (U24) Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma Translational Resource Center (Patrec) University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Wistuba, Ignacio I; Maitra, Anirban
Metabolic Reprogramming to Improve Immunotherapy (R01) Directing the Metabolic Fate of CAR T Cells University of Pennsylvania June, Carl H
Metabolic Reprogramming of Tregs in Tumor Immunity St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Chi, Hongbo
Immuno-Oncology Translation 
Network (IOTN): Cancer Immunoprevention Research Projects (UG3/UH3)
Intercepting progression from pre-invasive to invasive lung adenocarcinoma Weill Medical College of Cornell University Altorki, Nasser Khaled; Borczuk, Alain C; Elemento, Olivier ; Mcgraw, Timothy E; Mittal, Vivek 
Recurrent Tumor-Specific Alternately Processed Transcripts as a Source of Neoantigens for NF1-associated Malignant Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumor Immunoprevention University Of Minnesota Largaespada, David Andrew
Immuno-Oncology Translation 
Network (IOTN): Immuno-engineering to Improve Immunotherapy (i3) Centers (U54 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
Nano-Immuno-Oncology Approaches to Overcome Tumor Immune Evasion UT Southwestern Medical Center Gao, Jinming
Engineering the Next Generation of T Cells University Of Pennsylvania June, Carl H
UCSF Center for Synthetic Immunology: Tools to Reprogram the Immune System to Combat Cancer University Of California, San Francisco Lim, Wendell A
Biomaterials to Create T Cell Immunity Harvard University Mooney, David J; Hodi, Frank S
Immuno-Oncology Translation 
Network (IOTN): Cancer Immunoprevention Research Projects (U01 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
Robust Immuno-prevention Strategies for High-Risk Oral Epithelial Dysplasia University Of Michigan At Ann Arbor Lei, Yu Leo; Brenner, John Chadwick; Neamati, Nouri 
Immuno-Oncology Translation 
Network (IOTN): Cancer Immunotherapy Research Projects (U01 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
Mechanisms of Exosome Driven Immunoregulation of Cancer Progression University Of California, San Francisco Blelloch, Robert; Fong, Lawrence 
Cytokine immunotherapies for melanoma Yale University Bosenberg, Marcus W; Ring, Aaron Michael
Human CD3epsilon co-potentiation to boost immunotherapy University Of Missouri-Columbia Gil Pages, Diana
Optimizing myeloma-specific immunity after autologous stem cell transplantation Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Hill, Geoffrey Roger
Reprograming the tumor microenvironment to overcome multiple primary and acquired immune resistance mechanisms in ovarian cancer Roswell Park Cancer Institute Corp Odunsi, Kunle O; Gambotto, Andrea ; Kozbor, Danuta B
Defining mechanisms of immunotherapy resistance in head and neck squamous cell carcinomas Dana-Farber Cancer Inst Uppaluri, Ravindra; Barbie, David A; Haddad, Robert I
Cancer Immune Monitoring and Analysis Centers (CIMACs) (U24) High-Dimensional Immune Monitoring of NCI-Supported Immunotherapy Trials Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Gnjatic, Sacha
Immune Monitoring and Analysis of Cancer at Stanford (IMACS) Stanford University Maecker, Holden; Bendall, Sean Curtis
Translational Cancer Immune Monitoring and Analysis Center (TCIMAC) University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Wistuba, Ignacio I.; Al-Atrash, Gheath; Bernatchez, Chantale
Cancer Immune Monitoring and Analysis Center Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Wu, Catherine Ju-Ying; Hodi, Frank S.
Cancer Immunologic Data Commons (CIDC) (U24) Cancer Immunologic Data Commons Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Liu, Xiaole Shirley; Cerami, Ethan
Advancing Cancer Immunotherapy by Mitigating Immune-Related Adverse Events (irAE) (U01) Engineering Immunotherapeutic Probiotics to Mitigate irAE Columbia University New York Morningside Danino, Tal
Identification of Pathways to Mitigate Immune-Related Adverse Events with Cancer Immunotherapy National Jewish Health Leung, Donald YM; Kern, Jeffrey A; Lacouture, Mario
Finding the Optimal Balance of Immunotherapy Efficacy and Toxicity UT Southwestern Medical Center Gerber, David Eric; Wakeland, Edward K; Xie, Yang
Characterizing and Predicting Colitis in immune Checkpoint Blockade-Treated Cancer Patients Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Gnjatic, Sacha; Colombel, Jean-Frederic; Faith, Jeremiah James
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