Tuesday, April 20, 2010

UC Davis Cancer Center forms human tumor library as part of consortium

Monday, April 19, 2010, 1:27pm PDT | Modified: Monday, April 19, 2010, 1:54pm


The UC Davis Cancer Center has teamed up with a mutant mouse company to form a new consortium aimed at building a publicly available library of human tumors to promote research of new therapies against cancer.
UC Davis will supply The Jackson Laboratory (JAX) facility in Sacramento with solid human tumors that can be expanded in mice and made available for research. The consortium hopes to partner with other cancer centers, too — and the shared resources will benefit all the members.

Every cancer is as unique as the patient who has to live with it. That’s why most cancer treatments, developed to address the “average” patient, can be ineffective or even toxic.

“The standard way of trying to discover new therapies for cancer relies on use of tumor cell lines that may be many years old, grown in tissue culture and then put into mice,” UC Davis Cancer Center director Ralph DeVere White said in a news release. “While this has proven fairly successful in telling us what does not work, it does not predictably prove when therapies do work. “

The standard drug development process is costly in terms of money spent — and time, which many patients don’t have.

One problem with the tumor cell-line approach is that when those cells divide and reproduce, genetic mutations naturally occur. Thus the cells may drift into a different genetic profile, and any treatments designed to target the original tumors won’t work.

JAX has engineered an new mouse that had no immune system and has been shown to be especially receptive to human tumors. Researchers can take the tumor directly from a patient, implant it into a mouse, and use it to test new cancer therapies.

“The biomedical research community needs a common, readily accessible recourse to support this vital effort,” JAX vice president and chief operating officer Chuck Hewett said. “Jackson has all the necessary skills and infrastructure need to create and distribute such a resource. No single cancer has a sufficiently broad patient population to meet this need, so we must work together if we hope to compress the drug discover timeline and ultimately save lives.”

UC Davis is the first member of the research consortium. The partnership expands on an initial agreement last year between the university and JAX, but the partners have collaborated on research since July 1999.

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