Stanford researcher proposes revolutionary idea and uncovers how cancer cells communicate
Cincinnati, OH | September 19, 2019 — Sometimes the biggest ideas start as hunches. Such is the unconventional cancer research funding competition proposed by The Cure Starts Now Foundation in 2015 dubbed "Snap Grant". Since its debut at the International DIPG Symposium, it has led to some of the biggest advances in all of cancer research, funding 7 researchers with immediate $50,000 grants after a 4-minute pitch. Charged with introducing radical, thought-changing ideas, these researchers compete against other finalists for the opportunity to follow their hunches and change the future of cancer research. Over 50+ innovative ideas have competed from 5 countries with 7 Snap Grant winners selected by the Medical Advisory Council of The Cure Starts Now.
Dr. Michelle Monje is one of those researchers. Initially proposing her “Cellular Cybercriminals” in 2017, she hypothesized that cancer cells effectively hack into the established neural communication infrastructure of normal cells and use this mechanism to develop and grow. By uncovering this pathway, she hopes that further research will offer ways of disabling this communication network, effectively stopping all growth to cancer cells. It is a novel concept that truly speaks to the innovative nature of the Snap Grant program, but otherwise most likely would have never been funded because it lacked preliminary data to receive both governmental and conventional foundational support.
“This study in particular started when I won a Snap Grant with this crazy idea. I would not have been able to get started without this funding,” Dr. Monje detailed in an interview in early August.
“We certainly hope the Snap Grant is a tool for curing cancer,” says Keith Desserich, Chairman of The Cure Starts Now. “Ultimately we believe it will take radical steps to cure these elusive cancers and with it a cure for all.”
The findings of Dr. Monje's research have recently been profiled on NPR and will release the week of September 23rd as a cover story in Nature Magazine.
The next Snap Grant (now known as CureFund) contest is scheduled for the International Society of Pediatric Neuro-Oncology (ISPNO) meeting in Japan in June of 2020.