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Jackson Laboratory Nets $1M Grant to Study Biomarkers of Immunotherapy Adverse Events

NEW YORK – The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research on Tuesday said it has awarded the Jackson Laboratory a $1 million grant to identify biomarkers that can predict which cancer patients respond well to immunotherapy or experience adverse events.

The grant builds on the Mark Foundation's $2.5 million grant to JAX in 2019, which supported the Maine-based lab's research into biomarkers of immunotherapy response. The new grant specifically supports researchers' efforts to home in on genetic characteristics linked to immunotherapy-induced side effects.

In conducting this research, JAX investigators will analyze mice that have been engineered with humanized immune systems. In the mouse models, they will search for specific genetic variants that correspond to type 1 diabetes in patients undergoing immunotherapy treatment. As many as 10 percent of cancer patients receiving immunotherapy develop type 1 diabetes. The researchers will similarly hunt for biomarkers linked to myocarditis in patients on immunotherapy.

The project, dubbed Identifying Genes Uniquely Contributing to ICI-induced Immune Related Adverse Events, is led by JAX's Dave Serreze and Nadia Rosenthal.

In a statement, Mark Foundation CEO Michele Cleary noted the caveat that "results in animal studies don't always hold true when we take therapies into humans," but she highlighted as well that JAX is known for its work in engineering these mouse models.