Accelerating innovation in cancer research and prevention requires comprehensive planning for current operations and well as longer-term goals. With a solid foundation of research innovation and prevention serves built through 11 years of steady investment, CPRIT has positioned the state for new life science opportunities.
The CPRIT Oversight Committee and staff use strategic and operational planning to identify near term and future opportunities to create and expedite innovation in cancer research and breakthroughs in cancer prevention. This sets the course for CPRIT’s activities year by year and over the next decade.
The four components of CPRIT’s long-term vision for the agency and each of its three programs serve as our guide.
Decrease cancer in Texas
through prevention and translation of discoveries into treatments and cures
Focus on disparities
in cancer incidence, mortality, and access to care
in the scientific understanding of cancer
Enhance life sciences infrastructure
in the state
The Oversight Committee adopted its fiscal year 2021 priorities for CPRIT’s academic research, product development research, and prevention programs at its November 20, 2019, meeting. These annual program priorities guide CPRIT’s requests for applications and the evaluation of grant proposals. In addition to priorities specific to each grant program, CPRIT’s three programs share overarching priorities that span the cancer continuum from discovery to delivery. Although the priorities serve as strategic areas of emphasis, they do not exclude funding innovative projects in areas outside of identified priorities.
CPRIT is encouraging the development of the field of mathematical/computational oncology through its support for projects linking biology-based mathematical modeling with quantitative experiments that populate the key parameters in the models. By recruiting and funding investigators throughout Texas working in this area, like The University of Texas at Austin’s Dr. Thomas Yankeelov (RR160005), CPRIT is helping to establish a critical mass in this field that can then grow and become self-sustaining.
Texas is extraordinarily well-positioned to lead this change. The Oden Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences at UT Austin is the premier institute for applied mathematics in the country. The Oden Institute recently partnered with The University of Texas M.D. Anderson and the Texas Advanced Computing Center to establish an initiative in Oncological Data and Computational Science. CPRIT’s consistent investment to recruit and support investigators in this area helped make this partnership happen.
CPRIT awarded Houston-based ImmunoGenesis a $15.5 million CPRIT Texas Company Product Development Research award in 2020 to accelerate development of a novel immunotherapy drug (IMGS-001) designed to turn “cold” tumors “hot”.
Over the last decade immunotherapy drugs called checkpoint inhibitors have revolutionized therapy for many cancers, and new combination therapies continue to evolve. However, checkpoint inhibitors do not work the same in all cancers. Only a fraction of cancer patients has a partial or complete response to checkpoint inhibitors.
ImmunoGenesis' new type of immunotherapy attacks “cold” tumors - those tumors that are surrounded by immunosuppressive elements. Current checkpoint inhibitors have not been effective against these types of cancers.
CPRIT-funded preclinical work substantially increased the value of ImmunoGenesis and led to the signing of a term sheet for a large Series A financing from a venture capital firm renowned for its immuno-oncology expertise. This Series A funding, combined with the CPRIT funding, will pay for a Phase 1A/1B trial of IMGS-001 in over 90 patients, scheduled to begin in 2022.
By turning cold tumors "hot,” ImmunoGenesis seeks to unlock the potential of immunotherapy for the patients who present with cold tumors.
Immunogenesis' lead program is IMGS‑001, a PD-L1/PD-L2 dual-specific inhibitor with engineered cytotoxic effector function. This means the molecule can target and kill the immunosuppressive cells in the tumor microenvironment.
Preclinical data showed that IMGS‑001 offered 5 times the response rate in cold tumors than currently available immunotherapies. Additionally, IMGS‑001 can provide a foundation for add-on therapies
When CPRIT awarded Texas Tech University Health Sciences–Breast Center of Excellence a grant for the Access to Breast Care for West Texas (ABC4WT) project for breast cancer screening in Texas Panhandle in 2010, the region suffered the highest rate of breast cancer mortality with 15% of all breast cancers diagnosed at an advanced stage. In 2014, ABC4WT added cervical cancer screening and prevention and in 2019 expanded breast and cervical cancer screening and prevention services to include South Plains and Central West Texas regions. The renamed program ABC24WT focuses on early diagnosis for the uninsured/underinsured populations in these areas through its network of strategic public-private community partnerships.
per 100,000 women
per 100,000 women
per 100,000 women
CPRIT’s $2.86 billion investment in 1,679 of the best ideas in cancer research, product development research, and prevention is building a vibrant life sciences ecosystem across the state. This groundbreaking work enhances Texas’ competitive edge in the global fight against cancer and is saving lives. From a foundation built through 11 years of steady investment, Texas can now expand into new life science opportunities. Setting the course for the next decade of work, CPRIT and its stakeholders have identified several preliminary initiatives for further development.