UCSF establishes $250M initiative to develop living therapeutics

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University of California, San Francisco has established a initiative to propel the development of living therapeutics and bring them quickly to patients.

The Living Therapeutics Initiative will bring together UCSF’s scientific and clinical expertise to accelerate research and quickly advance promising therapies to clinical trials for patients who have few, if any, good treatment options. 

As a federation of established UCSF initiatives, the LTI will allow disparate research and clinical programs to share information, tools, and platforms. In the fall, the initiative will launch a $50 million grants program, made possible by philanthropy, to fund UCSF faculty living-therapeutics projects.

Over the past few years, UCSF has raised philanthropic gifts and made institutional commitments totaling more than $250 million to support living therapeutics-related efforts across the university.

Living therapeutics have been called a “new third pillar” of medicine, following small-molecule drugs (relatively simple compounds that can be chemically manufactured) and biologics (proteins and other molecules synthesized within microorganisms or cells).

Researchers across UCSF are already building the next generation of cellular therapies to treat diseases including solid tumors, autoimmunity, neurodegeneration, diabetes, and infectious diseases. These therapies aim to be smarter, safer, and more effective than CAR T, thanks to recent breakthroughs in cell engineering and gene editing. The LTI will connect tools and expertise from across the ecosystem of UCSF initiatives and partner institutions working to advance cell-based therapeutics.

These initiatives and institutions include clinical services at UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals; the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub; the Gladstone-UCSF Institute of Genomic Immunology; the Innovative Genomics Institute; the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy; and UCSF’s Bakar Computational Health Sciences Institute, Bakar ImmunoX Initiative, Benioff Center for Microbiome Medicine, Cell Design Institute, and Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research. Most recently, UCSF announced a partnership with Thermo Fisher Scientific for the co-development of a specialized facility for making cell-based immunotherapies and other cell-therapy products.

In addition to administering the $50 million in funding through an internal grant process, the LTI steering committee will help with coordination and strategy, such as thinking through regulatory issues, submitting applications FDA, and designing and evaluating clinical trials. Their evaluation of funding proposals will prioritize high-need, high-impact projects designed to lead to clinical trials. 

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