Brain Cancer Breakthroughs Wanted: Swedish and ISB Pool Resources To Spot Disease Early

10/1/08Follow @xconomy

The Swedish Neuroscience Institute has pieces of brain tumors waiting to be analyzed. The Institute for Systems Biology has computing power and ambitious scientists. Now the two Seattle-based groups are pooling their efforts to see if they can make breakthroughs to detect deadly brain cancers at an earlier, and more treatable, stage.

The collaboration is being led by ISB president Leroy Hood and Greg Foltz, a neurosurgeon at Swedish. The effort is getting started with a tissue bank composed of pieces of brain tumors removed during surgery, along with a genomic database. The researchers will look at samples from patients with glioblastoma, or primary brain cancer. It’s the fast-moving form of cancer that often kills patients within months of symptoms first appearing.

By digging deep into the genomes of those brain cells, the researchers say they hope to find clues that reveal new and better targets for drug development and treatment of the disease. The two organizations are working together on a fundraising effort to support the partnership.

“This is the first time that such a large group of established researchers have been brought together from the fields of neurosurgery, neuropathology, systems biology, genomics and biostatistical analysis to address serious diseases affecting the brain, such as malignant brain tumors,” said Foltz, in a statement. He added that the researchers “are focused solely on developing early diagnostic tools and treatment solutions for human disease rather than theoretical pursuits.”

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