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Scripps Translational Science Institute joins Jackson Laboratory tumor consortium

The Scripps Translational Science Institute (STSI) of San Diego, Calif., 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 a major research collaboration involving the nonprofit Scripps Health system and 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, Ph.D., 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."


Contact: Joyce Peterson
Jackson Laboratory

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