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ARPA-H announces project to strengthen the immune system

ARPA-H announces launch of CUREIT project to develop new tools to strengthen the immune system and save lives

Project aims to improve patient outcomes across a broad range of diseases using mRNA and gene modulation to address immune dysregulation

Today, the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is announcing up to $24 million for Curing the Uncurable via RNA-Encoded Immunogene Tuning (CUREIT), a project that aims to train the immune system to better fight cancer and other diseases with the goal of developing generalizable mRNA platforms to treat diverse diseases and save lives. CUREIT will be led by a team at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

“This is the first of many ambitious projects we plan to fund through ARPA-H's Open Broad Agency Announcement. Just five short months since we launched the Open BAA, we are already funding efforts to solve crucial health problems across a wide variety of diseases and conditions,” said ARPA-H Director Renee Wegrzyn, Ph.D. “The CUREIT project highlights the development of versatile toolkits that leverage recent advances – like those in gene modulation and mRNA delivery – to treat ailments that currently lack effective treatment options.”

The proposed CUREIT toolbox of mRNA – a molecule that tells the body what proteins to make – and related technologies could be used to “turn on” helpful immune responses, like prompting immune cells to target and attack tumors. Other applications could extend to autoimmune disorders, transplants, and infectious diseases.

“CUREIT aims to develop entirely new tools and methods to improve therapies so that fewer families experience loss from cancer,” said ARPA-H Mission Office Director Amy Jenkins, Ph.D. “The advances in programming immune cell function that may result from CUREIT could also be broadly applied to many other health conditions affecting Americans.”

CUREIT is the first award from the ARPA-H Open BAA, which seeks transformative ideas for health research breakthroughs or technological advancements. The application is open until March 2024 and future projects will be funded on a rolling basis. To learn more about projects as they are awarded, visit arpa-h.gov/engage/baa/awardees/.