The nonprofit Cancer Research Institute (CRI), a New York-based organization dedicated to research and patient education focused exclusively on cancer immunotherapy — harnessing the immune system’s potential for fighting cancers — is collaborating with the online patient engagement platform Inspire, to launch a new cancer immunotherapy online support community for patients and caregivers.
“As major advances in cancer immunotherapy begin to alter the landscape of cancer treatment, patients facing a cancer diagnosis need to be aware of immunotherapy as a potential treatment option for them,” CRI states in a news release. The new website will feature discussions and provide information on topics like cancer treatment decisions, treatment across immunotherapy types, financial and insurance issues, how to cope with side effects of cancer treatment, and news about clinical trials.
“We are excited to partner with Inspire to provide a peer-to-peer online community for patients who are looking for cancer immunotherapy information and support,” said Jill O’Donnell-Tormey, Ph.D., Cancer Research Institute CEO and director of scientific affairs. “As the only nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to immunotherapy, we are honored that Inspire chose CRI to connect patients and their caregivers to the discussion and resources they need.”
The CRI, guided by a Scientific Advisory Council that includes three Nobel laureates and 26 members of the National Academy of Sciences, has provided $311 million in funding to support research by immunologists at leading medical centers and universities around the world, and has contributed to many key scientific advances that demonstrate immunotherapy’s potential to revolutionize cancer treatment.
The CRI says that due to the immune system’s unique properties, immune system-based therapies may hold greater potential than current treatment approaches to fight cancer more powerfully, to offer longer-term protection against the disease, cause fewer side effects, and to benefit more patients with more cancer types. From a preventive vaccine for cervical cancer to the first therapy ever proven to extend the lives of patients with metastatic melanoma, the organization observes that immunology has already led to major treatment breakthroughs for a number of cancers.
However, each cancer type is unique. Immunology and immunotherapy impact particular cancers in different ways, and the CRI emphasizes that cancer immunotherapy clinical trials are critical to bringing new and potentially lifesaving treatments to more patients with more types of cancer, and may represent the greatest hope for patients currently confronted by the disease, noting that only four active immunotherapies have been approved for cancer. This means that hundreds of other new and promising cancer immunotherapy treatments are available to patients only in clinical trials. So participating in clinical trials of these therapies may be the most promising option for cancer patients today, according to the CRI, and will be critical to speeding the development and approval of new drugs in the future.
The Cancer Research Institute has partnered with EmergingMed to provide the Cancer Immunotherapy Clinical Trial Finder designed to help patients quickly search for clinical trials that may help them. For help in finding a clinical trial, patients can call toll-free 1-855-216-0127 to reach a Clinical Trial Navigator who can help them identify clinical trials that match their specific diagnosis and treatment history.
The new cancer immunotherapy support community will complement TheAnswerToCancer.org — a CRI website designed as a resource for cancer patients and their caregivers who are seeking information on cancer immunotherapy across tumor types. TheAnswerToCancer.org site provides a layperson-accessible overview of the science behind cancer immunotherapy, provides detailed information about cancer immunotherapy clinical trials, and serves as a forum for discussion by members of the cancer immunotherapy community.
Inspire, the nation’s largest patient-centric social network, was created with the belief that patients and caregivers need a safe and secure place to support and connect with one another, and brings to the project some of the largest and most active online support groups for cancer patients and caregivers. More than 250,000 of the 750,000 Inspire members are affected by cancer.
Inspire provides an online patient support community for hundreds of patient advocacy organizations and their members, including the American Lung Association, Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, and Fight Colorectal Cancer, and helps the industry connect with members for purposes of clinical research, market research, and promotion.
“In our online community of support groups dedicated to people affected by cancer, such as lung cancer, ovarian cancer, and metastatic breast cancer, we’re seeing much more discussion about cancer immunotherapy research, especially those who are in active clinical trials or thinking about joining,” said Inspire CEO Brian Loew. “Partnering with the Cancer Research Institute will give our existing members, and new members, a fantastic channel to share information, experiences, and support.”
For more information, visit CRI’s Inspire cancer immunotherapy support community at