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Mark Foundation, Johns Hopkins University Invest $10M in Cancer Immunotherapy Research

NEW YORK – The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research and Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy said on Tuesday that they have partnered on a $10 million investment in immunotherapy research, including efforts to define which cancer patients respond best to immunotherapy.

Of the $10 million investment, the Mark Foundation for Cancer Research — which partners with scientists, research institutions, and philanthropic organizations to support cancer research — is contributing $6 million, and the Bloomberg Kimmel Institute (BKI) is contributing $4 million. Scientists at Johns Hopkins will put the investment toward using genomics and imaging platforms to home in on why certain patients do not respond to immunotherapies, and then use those findings to inform clinical trials.

The $10 million contribution comes in the wake of an initial $5 million investment that the Mark Foundation made in 2020 to create the Mark Foundation Center for Advanced Genomics and Imaging at Johns Hopkins University.

The technologies used in the research will include single-cell genomics, imaging technologies, and high-dimensional computational techniques like machine learning to analyze immune-tumor interactions in the tumor microenvironment.

Researchers are, for instance, using a cancer imaging platform dubbed AstroPath — which draws on a technology originally used to determine the position of galaxies — to study the spatial relations in the tumor microenvironment and how the tumor reacts with surrounding tissues.

"AstroPath's imaging algorithms provide 1,000 times more information from a single biopsy than is currently available through routine pathology," Janis Taube, a professor of dermatology and pathology and the codirector of the Tumor Microenvironment Laboratory at BKI, said in a statement. "The expanded collaboration allows us to uncover why some patients have such remarkable responses when so many others do not. We are committed to finding new ways to intercept cancers, making immunotherapies work better."