New ARPA-H project aims to improve patient outcomes across cancer and a broad range of diseases, using mRNA technology to train our immune systems to be more effective

Today, the Biden Cancer Moonshot is announcing the launch of “Curing the Uncurable via RNA-Encoded Immunogene Tuning” (CUREIT), a project that aims to develop generalizable mRNA platforms that can be harnessed to train the immune system to more effectively fight cancer and other diseases, ultimately saving lives. CUREIT will be led by a team at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, with up to $24 million in new funding from the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H).

Last year, as part of his Unity Agenda, President Biden worked with Democrats and Republicans in Congress to establish and fund ARPA-H to drive breakthroughs to prevent, detect, and treat cancer and other diseases. Through CUREIT, ARPA-H is now moving aggressively to deliver on their mission, and to advance the goals of the Biden Cancer Moonshot and the President’s Unity Agenda.

The goal of CUREIT is to create a toolbox of mRNA and related technologies that could be used to “turn on” helpful immune responses, like prompting immune cells to target and attack tumors. Other applications could extend to autoimmune disorders, transplants, and infectious diseases. COVID-19 vaccines developed using mRNA technology platforms have saved millions of lives in the United States and around the world. A toolbox of mRNA platforms offers the potential to transform the fight against cancer and other difficult diseases.

Today’s award builds on important progress ARPA-H has made this summer. Last month, ARPA-H announced the launch of its first program targeting cancer – the Precision Surgical Interventions Program – to develop novel technologies that will allow surgeons to remove cancerous tumors with more precision and accuracy, resulting in better health outcomes for Americans facing cancer. ARPA-H also recently announced the Novel Innovations for Tissue Regeneration in Osteoarthritis (NITRO) program to develop new ways of helping the human body repair its own joints, with the goal of revolutionizing treatment for osteoarthritis — a common and often very painful condition where bones and cartilage break down.

CUREIT is the first award from the ARPA-H Open Broad Agency Announcement, which seeks transformative ideas for health research breakthroughs and technological advancements. The application period is open until March 2024 and future projects will be funded on a rolling basis.


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