Despite the obvious advancement of science in the cancer industry, and despite the many breakthrough findings in cancer this year alone, humanity still suffers from this lethal diseases that has and will still claim the lives of millions. But billionaire, entrepreneur, philanthropist Sean Parker, who is co-founder of Napster and Facebook’s first president, has set a $ 250 million plan in motion to accelerate the development of an effective cure for cancer.
According to Gizmodo, he plan involves founding the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy in San Francisco, which includes 40 research labs and 300 researchers that have joined Parker’s initiative from 6 major cancer research centers, including New York’s Memorial Sloan Kettering, Stanford Medicine, and the University of California; many more are expected to join soon. Parker urges the country’s top scientists to take part in this great plan and share the research openly for the sake of development. The institute will be managed by Parker himself, who promises to have a very hands-on role, and will include a staff of 50. This would facilitate patenting inventions and licensing them.
The institute will focus on cancer immunotherapy, a treatment that has shown the most positive results so far, which aids the body’s immunity in killing the cancer cells. The research will focus on 3 major points which are modifying immunity cells so they would target tumors, boosting the response to the available immunotherapy treatments, and identifying other ways to attack cancer tumors. Immunotherapy seems to be the future of cancer treatment. It aims to improve the body’s immunity through either helping it work harder to destroy cancer or boosting it with synthetic proteins. So far, results of this therapy have been very positive, showing a significant increase in survival rates and even cancer-free periods. It also has increased effectiveness of 20 to 30 % when combined with traditional treatments like chemotherapy.
In other regular labs available today, research efforts are concealed and kept secret, and all labs compete with each other in a business market. However, Parker’s institute will focus on collaboration among all the centers and scientists; much like the music sharing website Napster, the institute aims to share the findings freely among all its centers. Parker says he wants his institute to be a hub for sharing critical cancer research, and that the findings won’t just go into publishing journals, but will be pushed to be translated into real therapies for people to use. A breakthrough discovery at one center will be shared with all the others without the hassle of Intellectual Property and bureaucracy.
After losing his friend, film producer Laura Ziskin who passed away of breast cancer 3 years ago, Parker has been frustrated by the gruelingly slow progress in the search for a cancer cure. He urges scientists to share their findings and borrow from each other’s labs. Moreover, the collaborating labs will go on with their private researches; however, their funding will increase and they will have and give access to other resources.
Parker’s initiative seems promising; he thinks that a cure will surely be found faster this way, despite it needing a lot of hard work and even more funding. Furthermore, Parker’s plan is the most driven effort to combat a disease, since Bill and Melinda Gates turned their efforts towards combating malaria.