By MELISSA GILLIS, Associated Press reporterThe National Cancer Institute is planning to expand its research on cancer by developing a new tool that would be able to detect biomarkers that could aid in early detection of the disease, according to documents provided to Recode by a whistleblower.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is expected to announce its plans for the first phase of its new cancer lab at the end of this year.
The plan would be designed to use cutting-edge technologies that could detect changes in the immune system that might indicate cancerous cells, which would then be tracked and treated.
The NIH would also be looking to the private sector to create a new “crowd-sourced, machine learning” platform for tracking and evaluating cancerous tumors, which could eventually be used in trials, according the documents.
The lab will be based at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, according an internal document.
It is expected that the new lab will not be publicly funded, but it will likely be funded through private donations and grants, according Recode.
The documents, which were first reported by The Washington Post, were provided to the outlet by a former employee.
The documents also show the NIH has received $30 million from the U.S. Defense Department and the National Science Foundation in the past several years to fund the lab, which is being designed to create an automated cancer lab that can be used to detect changes to a patient’s immune system.
The newly revealed project is part of a larger initiative the NIH is undertaking to better understand cancer and other diseases.
The agency has been working to develop a tool that could help doctors, researchers and other health care professionals detect cancer before it strikes, and to identify ways to reduce its spread.
The program will not use traditional tests to detect cancerous changes to the immune systems of people, but instead will be powered by a software that can identify changes to patients’ immune systems.
It will also be able use a new technology called CRISPR-Cas9, which the NIH will use to insert genes into cancerous tissue to create new cancer cells, and then destroy them, according a September 2017 memo from NIH Director Francis Collins.
The memo also outlined plans to expand the NIH’s effort to develop new technologies to make these “cancer-specific therapeutics.”
The project, which has been in the works for several years, was originally funded by the Defense Department, which also provided funding for the project, according Toobin.
Collins, in an interview with Recode, said the money is intended to be “used for the research, not to spend it on research.”