Press Release November 18, 2014

CBIF funds Yale-JAX project to develop new mouse models for cancers

Farmington, Conn. – Connecticut Innovations’ Connecticut Bioscience Innovation Fund (CBIF) has made a $500,000 grant to support a new collaboration between Yale University and Jackson Laboratory (JAX) scientists to develop humanized mouse models that more accurately represent human responses to cancer and cancer therapies.

JAX Professors Jacques Banchereau, Ph.D., and Karolina Palucka, M.D., Ph.D.—director of immunological sciences and associate director for cancer immunology, respectively—will work with Richard A. Flavell, Ph.D., FRS, chair and professor of immunobiology at Yale School of Medicine and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.

JAX and Yale have each developed special, humanized mouse models that can host human cancers and other diseases. These models have provided a valuable new way to carry out pre-clinical studies assessing novel therapies as well as develop more specific and personalized approach to treatments.

“This project aims to develop a next-generation humanized mouse model that could revolutionize how research is conducted and how drugs are developed and tested,” Flavell says.

"Connecticut is fortunate to have some of the world's leading experts in immunology and the development of new mouse models to understand cancer and other diseases,” says Margaret Cartiera, Ph.D., director of bioscience initiatives at Connecticut Innovations. “We look forward to seeing the results from this new collaboration and the advances in human health it will lead to in the future."

The CBIF funding of $500,000 will enable the Yale and JAX researchers to work together to develop the next-generation versions of the humanized cancer mouse model, and to address questions that remain unanswered about how the human immune system fights infection and cancer.

Palucka, a cancer immunologist, explains, “Numerous cell types are involved in the control of tumor progression and therapy response. Therefore it’s vital to develop new humanized mouse models that harbor more—and someday possibly all—of these cell types.”

Banchereau adds, “We are grateful to the Connecticut Bioscience Innovation Fund for this grant, which will enhance collaboration within our state and which will lead to new jobs in the bioscience sector. Most important, the humanized mouse models we develop with Yale will be of tremendous value to the international cancer research community, and ultimately to cancer patients.”

The Jackson Laboratory is an independent, nonprofit biomedical research institution and National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center based in Bar Harbor, Maine, with a facility in Sacramento, Calif., and a new genomic medicine institute in Farmington, Conn. It employs 1,600 staff, and its mission is to discover precise genomic solutions for disease and empower the global biomedical community in the shared quest to improve human health.