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Broad Institute Lands $10M Gift to Study Cancer Drug Resistance

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The Broad Institute today announced it has received a $10 million gift from the Gerstner Family Foundation to study how tumors acquire drug resistance.

The gift will support experimental cancer research at the Broad and clinical research in collaboration with Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Cancer Center, and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the Broad Institute said in a statement.

Researchers at the Broad Institute will use CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing to identify the mechanisms of how tumors acquire drug resistance. "Human cancers are constantly evolving in ways that evade even the best of our innovative new drugs," Dana-Farber Cancer Institute CEO and President Edward Benz said in a statement. "For patients to get the maximum benefit from these exciting agents, we need to devise ways to defeat this resistance."

Scientists will also work to develop liquid biopsies and improve sequencing of circulating tumor cell genomes.

At the same time, the Broad Institute and its clinical partners will launch a large sequencing study of pre-treatment tumors and drug-resistant tumors to compare the cancer genomes to find mutations that cause resistance.

In March, Broad scientists published a paper in Cell describing a comprehensive CRISPR screen in a mouse model of tumor growth, and last year, Neville Sanjana of the Broad Institute presented work at the Biology of Genomes conference that identified genes involved in melanoma drug resistance using a genome-wide CRISPR screen.

Scientists from the Broad Institute and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute also last year published a paper on a process for isolating circulating tumor cells and sequencing their exomes. In addition, the institutes have collaborated on a Boston-area clinical cancer genomics center.