The human immune system has long been understood as a complex power capable of both feeding and fighting cancer, but until recent years, its mechanisms were understudied or unknown. Today, scientists are decoding these processes and learning how to impede or unleash our immune systems to effectively target and destroy cancerous cells, translating this science into treatments for patients that harness and enhance the innate powers of their immune systems to fight their cancers. These therapies represent the most promising cancer treatment approach since the development of the first chemotherapies in the 1940s.
These revolutionary treatments are called cancer immunotherapies.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI).
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), HPV causes 30,700 cancers in men and women every year in the United States. Recent data showing the rise of HPV infections will result in increased numbers of related cancer diagnoses.
HPV-related cancers are some of the most pernicious – cervical cancer is still the largest killer of women outside the developed world, and HPV-associated oropharyngeal cancer in men is growing in epidemic proportions. There is no effective treatment for these diseases in their metastatic state. Top scientists believe that promising research, including that supported by IF, can lead to effective treatments, particularly treatments in immunotherapy.
HPV infection significantly increases a person’s risk of developing an HPV-related cancer.
IF has partnered with UC San Diego (UCSD) and the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology (LIAI) to advance revolutionary immunotherapy treatments. Multiple projects have been translated from the bench to the clinic, and all remaining projects are designed to bring promising human therapies to the clinic by 2019. The projects address the biology of HPV-related cancers, particularly those of the head and neck, and are tightly interconnected to leverage information, allowing efficient movement into the clinic. Already, the research shows promise for benefit in other malignancies.Our Research
In early 2013, IF Founder Ralph Whitworth was diagnosed with treatable human papillomavirus (HPV)-related cancer at the base of his tongue. After undergoing aggressive treatment, he was cancer-free for one year. Then, in July 2014, his doctors discovered distant metastasis in his lungs. Recurrence of this disease is particularly lethal – no effective treatment exists.
In 2014, Ralph and his wife Fernanda funded promising programs in partnership with UCSD Moores Cancer Center. Today that work continues with the support of IF’s generous benefactors.
In September 2016, Ralph lost his battle with cancer. Fernanda and a growing group of supporters are determined to change the grim outcome of this scourging disease, as they forge ahead and continue the work that she and Ralph initiated.
IF is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization founded by the Whitworths in 2015.