VARI Collaborates On Research

July 29, 2008
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GRAND RAPIDS —  Van Andel Research Institute is collaborating with nine of the top research institutions in the country to identify how brain tumors with different genetic features respond to various treatment regimens. Known as the Ivy Genomics-Based Medicine Project, the goal of the consortium is to improve personalized medicine by uncovering the most effective treatment options based on a tumor’s specific genetic profile.

The Ben and Catherine Ivy Foundation awarded a $3 million project grant to the Translational Genomics Research Institute of Palo Alto, Calif., which will coordinate and manage the two-stage project, expected to span four to five years. If the consortium successfully completes the first stage, the second stage would consist of a clinical trial for patients with recurrent brain tumors.

Personalized medicine represents the future of health care, said VARI Scientific Investigator Craig Webb, Ph.D., who is also director of the institute’s translational medicine program. Webb noted that last year VARI began gathering and analyzing molecular data on tumors from local patients. VARI scientists have been working with the data to try to identify potential combinations of drugs on a patient-by-patient and disease-by-disease basis.

“Through the Ivy G.B.M. Project, we can take our research and concepts to the next level in a focused disease, and explore the potential of this treatment strategy on a national scale,” Webb said..

Other institutions participating in the project are Ohio State University, the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of California at San Francisco, Henry Ford Hospital, Mayo Clinic and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.

“Researchers will be able to compare results across institutions on a diverse set of tumors and treatment regimen response patterns,” said Translational Genomics’ Michael Berens, Ph.D., who is serving as project leader. “The size, scope and potential impact this project will have for patients with brain cancer is simply huge.”

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