city of hope

Cancer drugs have come a long way in treating late-stage patients, and one company is betting its technology can make them even more effective.

ImaginAb, the Inglewood-based cancer immunotherapy company, announced last week that it raised $12.8 million to continue to develop its technology to harness the body's immune system to tackle cancer.

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Last month, Lupe Duarte read an announcement from her colleagues that City of Hope was recruiting for a COVID-19 vaccine trial. The mother of three, who also cares for her infirm parents, volunteered immediately.

This afternoon the 48-year old project manager became the first patient to get a dose of the vaccine developed by a team of researchers at City of Hope.

She's part of the biotech institution's phase 1 trial, which tests a drug's safety typically over one to two years. The process is likely to last just three months as regulators speed up approval to deal with the pandemic. The next stage, expected to span about eight months, would test on more volunteers and further assess safety and efficacy.

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Los Angeles biotech companies are in a race to create vaccines as the U.S. embarks on the largest public health initiative in generations.

On Friday, the FDA issued emergency authorization to Pfizer's COVID vaccine, paving the way for a massive mobilization effort across the country. Moderna has also submitted a vaccine, slated for review December 17.

But that won't bring an end to the need for vaccines.

"Let's face it, there are close to 7 billion people on this Earth, and most of them will need a vaccine," said City of Hope vaccine researcher Don J.Diamond. "No one company will want to devote the resources to vaccinating the world."

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