San Diego – The Scripps Translational Science Institute (STSI) today announced it has joined a national consortium of research institutions headed by The Jackson Laboratory (JAX) that is building a library of primary human tumors with the goal of developing highly targeted cancer therapies.
In its role as a consortium member, STSI will provide solid human tumor samples to JAX, which will graft them into mouse models for scientific study. STSI scientists will then have access to the models to conduct research on how to better understand and treat cancer, including the potential for tumor-specific therapies.
JAX will perform the initial genomic characterization of the tumors and will share this data with all participating institutions. STSI is an initiative of the nonprofit Scripps Health system, in collaboration with The Scripps Research Institute, both of San Diego.
JAX launched the Primary Human Tumor Consortium in 2009. Other participating institutions outside San Diego include the University of Florida, the Swedish Neuroscience Institute in Seattle and UC Davis Cancer Center.
Mouse models that can accept newly resected human tumors offer a highly productive way to develop and test cancer treatments. Mouse models of virtually any kind of cancer can be developed, providing a more individualized approach to finding new treatments.
This approach stands in stark contrast to the standard way of discovering new therapies for cancer, which relies on the use of tumor cell lines. The tumor cell-line approach can be problematic, since genetic mutations naturally occur as those cells divide and reproduce. Consequently, the cells may drift into a different genetic profile and any treatments designed to target the original tumor won’t work. Also, the cell-line approach provides insights into which therapies are ineffective, but doesn’t predictably prove which ones are effective.
“By joining this consortium, Scripps will contribute to and share in a tumor library that will vastly exceed what any institution could build on its own,” said Nicholas J. Schork, PhD, director of bioinformatics and biostatistics at STSI. “This shared resource ultimately will greatly expand research capacity for all consortium members, with the goal of accelerating drug development for individualized approaches to each type of tumor.”
Located at The Jackson Laboratory’s JAX-West facility in Sacramento, Calif., the Primary Human Tumor Consortium seeks additional health care and research partners to speed the development of this tumor library resource. To date, the consortium has engrafted 172 tumors, with tumor sites including prostate, pancreas, lung, kidney, colon, breast, brain and bladder.
“The biomedical research community needs a common, readily accessible resource to support this vital effort,” said JAX Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Chuck Hewett, Ph.D. “No single cancer center has a sufficiently broad patient population to meet this need, so we must work together.”
The Scripps Research Institute is one of the world’s largest independent, non-profit biomedical research organizations. Scripps Research is internationally recognized for its discoveries in immunology, molecular and cellular biology, chemistry, neuroscience, and vaccine development, as well as for its insights into autoimmune, cardiovascular, and infectious disease.
Headquartered in La Jolla, California, the institute also includes a campus in Jupiter, Florida, where scientists focus on drug discovery and technology development in addition to basic biomedical science. Scripps Research currently employs about 3,000 scientists, staff, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students on its two campuses. The institute’s graduate program, which awards Ph.D. degrees in biology and chemistry, is ranked among the top ten such programs in the nation. For more information, see www.scripps.edu.
The Jackson Laboratory is an independent, nonprofit biomedical research institution with more than 1,300 employees in Bar Harbor, Maine and Sacramento, Calif. Its mission is to discover the genetic basis for preventing, treating and curing human diseases and to enable research and education for the global biomedical community. Its 38 research groups investigate the genetic basis of cancers, heart disease, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, glaucoma, diabetes and man other human diseases and disorders, as well as normal development, reproduction and aging.
A National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center, the laboratory is also the world’s source for more than 5,000 strains of genetically defined mice, is home of the mouse genome database and is an international hub for scientific courses, conferences, training and education. Visit www.jax.org for more information.