ARPA-H funds project to restore immune system function


Biden-Harris Administration announces funding for regenerative tissue project to restore immune system function and improve health outcomes through ARPA-H award

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, through the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), today announced up to $37 million in project funding through its Open Broad Agency Announcement (Open BAA) to restore function to the thymus, an organ responsible for supporting normal immune cell development, and potentially restore immune system function as people age. More than 10,000 new patients are diagnosed each year with a thymus disorder, often related to congenital defects or cancer treatments. More broadly, thymus function naturally declines with age, which can contribute to poorer immune system function, and lead to increased vulnerability to illness and poorer health outcomes.

The Thymus Rejuvenation project, led by Thymmune Therapeutics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, aims to restore damaged or non-functional thymus tissue. Using laboratory methods, scientists can turn cells into different tissue types, eventually growing into functional thymus tissue for a patient, and allowing for a “reboot” of immunity. ARPA-H funding will not only advance the treatment towards clinical development but also aim to effectively treat a broader range of clinical indications related to immune depletion as we age. This effort builds on ARPA-H’s ongoing work to improve health outcomes for all Americans.

“For children born without a thymus, those with thymus defects and elderly patients with failing immune function, restoring thymus function could be a game changer in their health and quality of life,” explained Amy Jenkins, Ph.D., director of the ARPA-H Health Science Futures office. “ARPA-H looks to support cutting-edge technologies like this one that, if successful, could have applications beyond just one disease.”

ARPA-H’s Open BAA seeks transformative ideas for health research or technology breakthroughs. Continued support of each award is contingent on projects meeting aggressive milestones. The Open BAA began accepting abstracts in March 2023 and is open until March 2024. Future projects will be funded on a rolling basis. To learn more about projects as they are awarded, visit the awardee page.