TEMPE, Ariz.—Arizona State University (ASU) and China's SunYat-sen University (SYSU) have formalized a research collaboration aimed atdeveloping early and predictive diagnostics to improve patient outcomes forcolorectal cancer. ASU's Nobel Laureate, Dr. Leland Hartwell, chief scientistat the Biodesign Institute's Center for Sustainable Health, spearheaded theagreement with Dr. Jianping Wang, director of the SYSU GastrointestinalInstitute of the Sixth Affiliated Hospital in Guangzhou, Guangdong, China.
According to Hartwell, "Recent advances in moleculartechnologies promise great improvements in medical care through prevention andearly detection of disease. Developing these advances to the stage where theyare useful in the clinic requires a systematic, dedicated and long-termcollaboration between the most advanced clinical research sites andstate-of-the-art technology centers. We are optimistic that this collaborationwill help advance the quality of colorectal cancer care worldwide."
The Center for Sustainable Health (CSH) is a multimillion-dollar,ASU-led partnership within the Biodesign Institute with a mission of improvinghealthcare and reducing costs through advances in diagnostics. The SixthAffiliated Hospital (500 beds, soon to expand to 1,000 beds) is one of eight affiliatedhospitals at SYSU that have a total of 7,500 beds.
SYSU is namedafter Dr. Sun Yat-sen,founder of both the university and the Republic ofChina. He is said to be the only figure that is revered among peopleon both sides of the Taiwan Strait. The university, originally known asGuangdong University, was founded in 1924 in the city of Guangzhou (located inthe southern Chinese Province of Guangdong, the forefront of China's reform andopening up). It was renamed Sun Yat-sen University in 1926.
The university hasnow evolved into a multidisciplinary, comprehensive research center includingnatural sciences, social sciences, the humanities, technical science andmedical and management sciences. The Sixth Affiliated GI Hospital of SYSU isthe first GI hospital in China, focusing on treating malignant and benigngastrointestinal diseases—830 new GI cancer patients including 589 with CRCwere diagnosed in the hospital last year. Within SYSU and its eight affiliatedhospitals, more than 2,000 CRC patients are treated each year.
Research scientists at the two universities will collaborateon the discovery, development and validation of biomarkers for screeninghigh-risk populations to detect colon cancer at an early stage and forproviding the most effective treatment strategy for patients, with the aim ofimproving patient outcomes and reducing cost.
The agreement with SYSU forms the second hub in the Centerfor Sustainable Health's Global Biosignatures Network (GBN), an effort toharness scientific, academic, industry and healthcare system resources to makea major impact on 21st century healthcare practice. SYSU joins founding memberChang Gung University, which focuses on biomarker discovery and validation fororal and colorectal cancer.
In his keynote address at the Arizona BioIndustryAssociation's 2011 Expo earlier this month, Dr. Michael Birt, director of theCenter for Sustainable Health at ASU's Biodesign Institute, called for a shiftin our health system to rewardcost-effective prevention, early detection and intervention.
"Such a shift andthe technology that it would require has the potential to spur growth amongbioscience organizations, reduce patient suffering, and lower healthcare costs,"he stated in his prepared remarks. "By establishing biosignatures centers, wehope to build a global network that will provide the scale necessary toovercome scientific limitations while creating a global platform to share methods,results and experiences. With these formalized partnerships, we aim to developinformative tests for prevention, early detection and effective therapeuticintervention for disease.
"The overarching goal of the Global Biosignatures Network isto develop a broad spectrum of skills to transform medicine in health systemsover the next decade through strategic alliances," Birt continued. "Inparticular, GBN seeks to build expertise in health economics, disease modeling,clinical research and trial design, care delivery, regulatory affairs,bioinformatics, information technologies, and overall technical expertise. Byestablishing Biosignatures Centers, we hope to build a global network that willprovide the scale necessary to overcome scientific limitations while creating aglobal platform to share methods, results and experiences."