Billionaire philanthropist Sean Parker will donate $250 million in an unconventional cancer project involving 300 scientists and 40 laboratories across six universities in the U.S.
The initiative, to be formally announced Wednesday, will focus on immunotherapy, a modern area of research that uses body's own immune system to fight cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, immunotherapy has shown promising results against many types of cancer.
Parker, who is also the founding president of Facebook, has roped in researchers from the Stanford, California ,San Francisco, Los Angeles, Pennsylvania universities, and also from the MD Anderson Cancer Center, and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center for the project.
"Cancer immunotherapy is such an incredibly complex field, and for every answer it seems to pose 10 more questions. I'm an entrepreneur so I wish some of these questions had been answered yesterday," Parker was quoted as saying by the Washington Post.
A committee comprising members from each of the participating universities would set the group's research agenda and coordinate the data collection and clinical trials across many sites. This team will be led by immunologist Jeff Bluestone, the former provost of University of California, San Francisco, who is also a member of the expert panel for President Obama's $1 billion National Cancer Moonshot project.
Parker said the project would allow scientists to access resources from various laboratories without the bureaucracy hurdles.
The researchers would work from their home universities and receive additional funding and access to other resources, including specialised data scientists and genetic engineering equipments.
Parker's funding in unconventional science projects is in line with the effort made by other philanthropists, such as Michael Bloomberg and Paul Allen who recently invested in the initiatives aimed at finding new treatment methods for cancer and other diseases.
The former New York Mayor, businessman Michael Bloomberg, Jones Apparel Group founder Sidney Kimmel, and other philanthropists had announced $125 million grant to the Johns Hopkins University March 29, to set up an institute focussed on finding a possible cancer treatment through immunotherapy.
Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist Paul Allen said he would invest $100 million in unconventional bio-science project over 10 years, which he described as having great benefits to the human race.
More than 1.6 million new cases of cancer will be diagnosed and cancer will kill an estimated 600,000 Americans in 2016, as per official data.