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TGen and George Mason University announce precision medicine alliance to benefit patients

PHOENIX, Ariz. and FAIRFAX, Va. May 6, 2014 The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and George Mason University today announced the creation of a strategic research alliance to benefit patients with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.

The TGen-George Mason Molecular Medicine Alliance is a groundbreaking effort in precision medicine, which recommends to clinicians the best medications and treatments based on each patient's molecular profile.

Both institutions are world leaders in exploring the underlying fundamentals of disease by studying genes and proteins. By combining efforts, George Mason and TGen look to develop a more precise research strategy to help people afflicted by cancer and other diseases, while pursuing additional research. The alliance is the first of its kind in the field.

TGen, at the heart of Phoenix's Biomedical Campus, is recognized as a pioneer in studying genomics, or DNA, to uncover the underlying molecular causes of disease. Mason, strategically located outside the nation's capital, has one of the world's most advanced labs for studying proteins: the Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine.

The alliance already has submitted applications for more than $12 million in research grants for projects that each institution might not have pursued alone, but are now well positioned to accomplish by combining their complimentary expertise.

"This is a timely and exceptionally forward looking research effort between George Mason University and TGen. The Molecular Medicine Alliance is an opportunity for two highly regarded institutions to integrate their complementary knowledge and human resources to help patients by using state-of-the-art technology to advance new therapeutics options," said Dr. Jeffrey Trent, TGen President and Research Director.

"This is a major achievement for science and health care," said Dr. ngel Cabrera, President of Mason. "By joining forces, researchers can understand disease at a more refined level and more people can be helped. This is the level of research that all universities and companies strive to achieve."

Both institutions embrace translational medicine moving new laboratory discoveries as quickly as possible into new treatments for patients. Both institutions pursue precision medicine recommending the best medication based on each patient's molecular profile.

The alliance extends both Mason's and TGen's footholds to the other sides of the nation, expanding each other's network of collaborators and clinical trials, and advancing new treatments to the public.

Using genomics to sort out genetic changes that lead to disease, TGen has conducted extensive clinical trials that have led to new treatments approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Using that model, Mason has the opportunity to use proteomics to develop new FDA approved treatments, including finding new uses for already approved FDA drugs.

By integrating genomics and proteomics, the alliance will initially focus on discoveries in four specific areas of research:

  • New treatments for patients with breast cancer or melanoma.
  • Treatments for patients with breast cancer that has spread to the bone and brain.
  • Biomarkers that can help diagnose traumatic injuries, such as brain concussions.
  • Developing a better understanding of infectious diseases and the human immune system, leading to new vaccines.

Through the alliance, Mason and TGen will have the opportunity to develop new discoveries, benefitting patients through new technologies. Mason students will have opportunities to intern at TGen. And the partners hope the alliance will have significant economic impact, creating jobs and new commercial businesses both in Arizona and Virginia.

The alliance will be celebrated at an event Friday, May 9, in the Mason Inn, Junior Ballroom on the Mason campus in Fairfax, Va.


Contact: Steve Yozwiak
The Translational Genomics Research Institute

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