Cancer Research Coalition Announced in Connecticut

Press Release

By:  Dan Malloy
Date: April 30, 2013
Location: Hartford, CT

Scientists from The Jackson Laboratory will partner with cancer specialists at Hartford Hospital and Connecticut Children's Medical Center to explore new approaches to cancer treatment for adults and children. Laboratory and hospital officials joined Governor Dannel P. Malloy on Tuesday to announce the new genomic medicine collaboration.

Malloy, whose 2011 Bioscience Connecticut initiative brought the Laboratory to Connecticut, said the joint research effort will help to position Connecticut as a leader in the emerging field of genomic medicine, which aims to develop individualized therapies for cancer and other diseases.

"Today's announcement is a great example of why we pursued The Jackson Laboratory during my first year in office," said Governor Malloy. "I want to thank Laboratory President and CEO Ed Liu and the staff and boards at Hartford Hospital and the Connecticut Children's Medical Center for the work they do. This partnership will advance the treatment of disease, position Connecticut as a leader in genomic medicine, and impact people living with disease in the most meaningful way."

The collaboration among the hospitals and The Jackson Laboratory's new JAX Genomic Medicine facility in Farmington, CT will bring cutting-edge science to the patient-care setting. The collaborative agreement provides the framework for joint research toward tailored cancer therapies.

"We are establishing formal linkages with these distinguished Connecticut hospitals," said Dr. Edison Liu, M.D., Jackson's president and CEO. "Together, we have the potential to diagnose and treat cancer based on the unique genomic profile of the patient and the tumor. This collaboration will create the capability for translational genomic medicine in Connecticut. Our goal is more effective cancer care at a lower cost to patients and to society."

"We are thrilled to be partnering with the finest minds in the country to further research and win the war on cancer," said Dr. Andrew L. Salner, director of the Helen & Harry Gray Cancer Center at Hartford Hospital. "Together, we can take the patient's own tumor cells, study their genomics and behavior in the lab, and ultimately translate those findings into a personalized and effective treatment approach. Doing this will be a giant leap forward in the development of safe and effective cancer therapies."

"This collaboration brings with it the hope for discovery of new, more effective treatments for our children suffering with high-risk cancers for which effective treatments are not available," said Fernando Ferrer, M.D., surgeon-in-chief, executive vice president and director of the division of urology at Connecticut Children's Medical Center. "These efforts place our institutions and our state at the forefront of a new era of cancer treatment."

JAX scientists and physicians from Hartford Hospital and Connecticut Children's Medical Center will use specialized research mice as stand-ins, or avatars, for human cancer patients. Researchers will transplant and grow patient tumor tissue in the mice, creating a cadre of patient-specific avatars. By testing a selection of therapies in the mouse avatars and correlating the results with the particular genetic makeup of the tumor tissue, scientists and clinicians will gain deeper understanding of the effectiveness of various therapies for specific cancers.

The cancers to be studied are those with high risk of relapse or recurrence, including certain types of pediatric cancer and colon cancer in adults. Patient participation will be voluntary and guided by established federal regulations.

Over time, the study will establish a far-reaching database that correlates cancer treatment results with the specific genomic variations observed in tumors. The Jackson Laboratory will make this information available to the global biomedical community.