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There are two things Phil Greenberg, the head of immunology at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, is especially well-known for: a characteristic wiry gray mop of hair and wide glasses, and a rock-solid reputation as one of the leading researchers in cancer immunotherapy.

Greenberg was behind some of the key scientific advances that led to breakthrough CAR-T cell therapies, and co-founded Juno Therapeutics, a biotech that helped launch one of the first of those treatments. Now, he’s co-founding a new venture called Affini-T Therapeutics, a Seattle and Massachusetts-based company that hopes to eliminate cancers by targeting the source of cancer cells. The budding biotech, unveiled this week at the J.P. Morgan Health Care Conference, will use a relatively new technology known as engineered T-cell receptors, or TCRs, to target oncogenic driver mutations, errors in key genes that cause cells to revolt and turn malignant in the first place.


“Greenberg really knows TCRs,” said Marcela Maus, a cellular therapist at Mass General Hospital Cancer Center who is not involved with Affini-T, adding that it bodes well for the biotech that he’s involved.

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