A new institute has been established that focuses on cancer immunotherapy, offering new hope in the field of immuno-oncology. A primary goal of the facility, called Bloomberg-Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at Johns Hopkins University, is to investigate melanoma, not only one of the deadliest types of skin cancer but also one of the most common types of cancer in the United States.
The Bloomberg-Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at Johns Hopkins, located in Baltimore, will be led by Drew M. Pardoll, M.D., Ph.D., who is also the co-director of the Cancer Immunology and Hematopoiesis Program and a professor of oncology. The institute will also include prominent melanoma researchers such as Suzanne Topalian, a board member of the Melanoma Research Alliance (MRA). The MRA expects the new institute to provide much-needed resources to harness the power of the immune system to fight cancer, according to a press release.
“We applaud the creation of the new institute and welcome the focus this brings to the power of immunotherapy in fighting melanoma and other cancers,” said Debra Black, co-founder and chair of MRA, the largest private funder of melanoma research in the world. “MRA has long supported the immunotherapy research of Drew and Suzanne and are hopeful that they and other researchers will continue to provide insights into the causes of and treatments for cancers that affect millions of people.”
The public charity MRA supports immunotherapy since it was founded in 2007, and has granted team science awards to both Pardoll and Topalian at Johns Hopkins. The two scientists currently work as members of the Grant Review Committee of the MRA, providing scientific, merit-based peer review of research proposals submitted to the charity. In addition to being the MRA’s first chief science officer and board member, Topalian is also on the charity’s Medical Advisory Panel and is a member of the Scientific Advisory Panel.
Given its high incidence and the difficulty to treat skin cancer, immunotherapy for the treatment of melanoma has been gaining great interest among investigators. By the end of last year, researchers at the Tisch Cancer Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai were also able to define a new mechanism by which radiotherapy can successfully eradicate melanoma. The findings were published in Nature Immunology in a study titled “CDKN1A regulates Langerhans cell survival and promotes Treg cell generation upon exposure to ionizing irradiation.”