Cancer Research UK (CRUK) is placing a £20 million ($31 million) bet on the advance of immuno-oncology leading to development of prophylactic cancer vaccines. The funding will go to whichever research group can persuade CRUK it has what it takes to create a vaccine that prevents nonviral cancers.
|CRUK Chief Scientist Nic Jones|
CRUK is making the money available through Grand Challenges, its new £100 million scheme to back ambitious research ideas. Preventative vaccines for nonviral cancers fit the bill. While therapeutic oncology vaccines are still yet to live up to their hype, CRUK is already looking beyond them to an era in which cancer is vaccinated against like measles is today. The nonprofit acknowledges science is a long way from realizing this vision--hence the project's inclusion as a "Grand Challenge"--but it sees enough reasons for optimism to justify stumping up £20 million.
At this stage CRUK is yet to decide which research team will pocket the £20 million. The organizers of the challenge have given interested groups until February 12 to submit proposals, after which an advisory board made up of big names from global academia and industry will create a shortlist. CRUK is aiming to unveil the winner in the fall of 2016. "Cancer is a global problem and it demands a global response--we know that scientists around the world, and from varied disciplines, will have brilliant and innovative ideas," CRUK Chief Scientist Nic Jones said in a statement.
The preventative cancer vaccine challenge is the first of at least 5 such research projects. CRUK will get these other challenges going progressively over the next 5 years. Research programs to come up with a way to eradicate Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-induced cancers, better understand mutational genetic signatures and improve the ability of diagnostics to distinguish between benign and aggressive forms of disease are planned. CRUK has outlined seven challenges in total, but, with £100 million currently available for the programs and the first project taking up £20 million, may only fund 5.
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