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Crusade Against Cancer: Collaborations On The Anvil

The IBM Corp., based in Armonk, N.Y., announced this Tuesday its decision to join forces with three research centers, as part of an overall effort to help accelerate cancer research, diagnosis and treatment//.

IBM will collaborate with the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the Molecular Profiling Institute and the CHU Sainte-Justine Research Center under separate agreements.

IBM and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) will erect a state-of-the-art integrated information management system to improve the ability of clinicians and researchers to study long-term cancer-related illnesses, identify disease trends and determine success rates.

Funded by a $3 million grant of technology and services from IBM, MSKCC will include a comprehensive system to integrate its hospital data with text mining and related analytical capabilities into a unified information management environment to facilitate predictive analysis and research.

In addition, pathologists at MSKCC are working closely with researchers at IBM to create a searchable database for pathology reports.

"This is an excellent multi-sector model that can drive integration of molecular medicine into areas where it's truly needed, including cancer detection, treatment, and ultimately prevention," said Dr Anna Barker, deputy director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). "The convergence of advanced technologies and post-genomics science will change cancer medicine in ways we cannot yet envision."

In a separate collaboration, cancer experts at three Manchester institutions have decided to work together at a new "world class" research center in the city. Researchers at Christie Hospital, the Paterson Institute and the University of Manchester will pool their efforts to find more effective treatments.

Their medical research will be coordinated by the newly-formed Manchester Cancer Research Center and it is hoped the center will come up with major breakthroughs within five years.

The hub of the MCRC will be at Christie Hospital with researchers from the University's Faculty of Life Sciences and the Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences contributing their expertise.

Under a five-year plan for the center, it is expected that funding will double from £30m to £60m and that the workforce will increase from 350 to 700.

It is hoped the new center will allow chemists and biologists to work closely with doctors at Christie to take advances from the lab straight on to the hospital ward. Professor Nic Jones, director of the Paterson Institute, who will become director of the MCRC, said: "In the short term we will become a centre of research excellence, with better clinicians. We'll develop new therapies, and patients do better when they are on clinical trails." "The science has reached a critical stage now. We understand cancers so much more that now we need to start bigger and better trials on patients. I would expect to see some significant breakthroughs in the next five years."

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