Researchers from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center will partner with the new Allen Institute for Immunology to chart the human immune system by harnessing big data and emerging technologies.
Fred Hutch is one of several external colllaborators of the new institute, which was launched today at a press conference at the Seattle institute. Other partners are the Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason in Seattle, the University of California at San Diego, the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and the University of Pennsylvania.
The organization’s ultimate goal is to improve human health by improving disease treatments based on the immune system. To that end, the teams will work to describe the immune system of healthy individuals and what goes astray in cancer and in autoimmunity, when the immune system either fails to eliminate tumor cells or attacks healthy tissues.
The Hutch will contribute expertise in cancer immunology and cancer immunotherapies, in which the immune system is harnessed to treat tumors. Initial efforts will focus on understanding the immune systems of patients with multiple myeloma, a common but currently incurable blood cancer, to improve immunotherapy strategies for this disease.
“Patients are all different. To be able to reveal the complexity of individual variation will really move the field forward” said Dr. Stan Riddell, an oncologist and immunotherapy researcher who directs the Hutch’s Immunotherapy Integrated Research Center and is one of the leaders of the new collaboration. “I’ve always been a translational immunologist. Here, the fact that we are studying patients with the goal of using the data to improve these new cancer immunotherapies — that’s special.”