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TGen Heads NIH-funded $4.5M Brain Tumor Project

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The Translational Genomics Research Institute said today that it will lead a multi-partner study funded with $4.5 million from the National Institutes of Health to study publicly available genomic data resources for potential drugs for the most common type of brain tumors.

TGen and collaborators at the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, the Van Andel Research Institute, the National Cancer Institute, and the Intellectual Property & Science division of Thomson Reuters will search for potential genomic and cellular targets that could lead to treatments for gliobastoma multiforme.

The partners aim to use new genomic data from hundreds of glioblastoma specimens to discover new treatments that can precisely target tumors and shrink or eliminate them without damaging other cells or causing many other side effects.

GBM grows swiftly and spreads to nearby brain tissue and is generally treated by surgical removal, radiation, and chemotherapy, but the prognosis for survival is only 14 months after diagnosis.

TGen said it will work with VARI and will use the MetaCore and MetaMiner software tools from Thomson Reuters' GeneGo business to "conduct the most extensive scan ever undertaken of available public data about the potential causes of GBM."

That search is aimed at identifying promising genes and cellular pathways that will then be referenced against a database of 54 patient tumor models. Sanford-Burnham will then test and validate any promising pre-clinical drug treatment models the partners discover.
The partners in the five-year project will hold monthly meetings with NCI's Target Discovery and Development Network to share best practices that could help other researchers avoid duplicating their efforts.

The CTDD Network helps scientists focused on therapeutics find uses for the vast volumes of genomic data that are generated by molecular characterization studies of various cancer types. The network includes partners at Columbia University; Emory University; the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; the University of California, San Francisco; the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center; Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory; the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center; and the Broad Institute.

"The exceptional team assembled for this study will mine vast amounts of data to come up with possible cancer vulnerabilities and the most promising ways to attack GBM, giving new hope to brain-tumor patients," Michael Berens, director of TGen's Cancer and Cell Biology Division and principal investigator on the grant, said in a statement.

"The study's combination of bioinformatics and experimental approaches is innovative, and should enable development of novel molecular targets not only in GBM, but also in multiple cancer types," he added.