Three Tech Projects Tackle Cancer With ARPA-H Support
Researchers, from left, Lorena Chaves, Jose Assumpcao, and Philip Santangelo will be part of a collaborative effort to use mRNA drugs to enhance the body’s immune response. Santangelo is leading the $24 million project supported by the federal Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health. (Photo: Jack Kearse)
The Georgia Institute of Technology is at the forefront of developing technologies and solutions related to cancer detection and treatment, thanks to support from the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H).
President Joe Biden’s Cancer Moonshot initiative aims to cut the cancer death rate by half in 25 years. Three projects connected to Georgia Tech, which have collectively received $119 million from ARPA-H, are doing just that.
With a grant worth up to $50 million, Georgia Tech will lead development of a new generation of cancer tests capable of detecting multiple types of tumors earlier than ever. Led by biomedical engineer Gabe Kwong, the project will map the unique cellular profiles of cancer cells and leverage that knowledge to build new bioengineered sensors to detect those profiles. The goal is to create a new kind of multi-cancer early detection test that would allow oncologists to start treating the tumors sooner, when they’re still small and most responsive.
The project is the third with ties to Georgia Tech received in recent weeks. Professor Philip Santangelo, professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University, received the first tranche of funding from the agency — $24 million — for a project building a toolbox of mRNA drugs to activate or shut off specific genes to help the immune system fight cancer and other disorders.
Both Josiah Hester in the School of Interactive Computing and Celine Lin in the School of Computer Science are co-principal investigators of a $45 million Rice University-led effort to develop an implant to help the body better respond to cancer treatments. Together, they will develop a robust platform that is energy-efficient enough to last for months.
“At ARPA-H, we recognize the urgency of the health challenges facing cancer patients and their families.” said ARPA-H Director Renee Wegrzyn, “and we are committed to funding truly transformative research that can improve health outcomes for everyone.”
Read more about the three projects:
THOR HAMMR Device