Thermo Fisher Scientific, Newman-Lakka Institute pursue personalized cancer treatment
Partnership will focus on developing methods to track circulating biomarkers in blood
SAN JOSE, Calif.—Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. and theNewman-Lakka Institute for Personalized Cancer Care at Floating Hospital forChildren at Tufts Medical Center will work together to research and develop newmethods to detect and track circulating biomarkers in blood, per anannouncement made last month.
Earlier this year, Thermo Fisher Scientific and the U.K.'sUniversity of Birmingham became Technology Alliance Partners to advance liquidchromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) techniques in life-science research.In the United States, the company has programs in place with the BarnettInstitute at Northeastern University in Boston and scientists at PrincetonUniversity.
The new collaboration will focus on applying Thermo FisherScientific's latest ultra-sensitive LC-MS instrumentation and technology todevelop robust methods for identifying protein biomarkers for a variety ofcancers, including breast and prostate cancer as well as tumor-associatedangiogenesis.
"Our challenge and hope is to change the current standard ofcare, and our collaboration with Thermo Fisher and access to itsstate-of-the-art instrumentation will accelerate our mission. We hope to beable to provide oncologists with a panel of biomarkers that sense microscopiclevels of tumor cells with a simple blood test," says Charles J. Newman,president of the Newman-Lakka Cancer Foundation. "The goal is to developdiagnostic tools to make it possible for physicians to check off a panel ofbiomarkers when patients get regular checkups, so early detection of diseasecan facilitate effective treatment. Also, the goal is to enable oncologists tomonitor the efficacy of treatment with a blood test, rather than waiting twomonths for an MRI and exposing the patients to additional harmful radiation."
In 2012, Newman's foundation pledged $2.5 million toestablish the Newman-Lakka Institute for Personalized Cancer Care at theFloating Hospital to accelerate doctors' ability to use personalized cancertreatments for children whose cancer is not responding to traditionaltreatment. The center is said to be the first ever to create a centralizeddatabase to analyze and track the outcomes of these groundbreaking cancertherapies, enabling physicians to share more complete information and offerlifesaving treatment to thousands more children with rare and recurring tumors.
"There are literally thousands of medications available thatcan treat many of the most recalcitrant tumors," explains Dr. Giannoula LakkaKlement, scientific director of the Newman-Lakka Institute and a pediatrichematologist/oncologist at Floating Hospital for Children. "Until now, however,we have not had detailed information about which patients benefited frommolecularly guided therapy with a specific agent, and which did not. Byanalyzing outcome data from patients treated with targeted therapies anddeveloping novel mathematical and biostatistical methods, the Newman-LakkaInstitute will lead the way in providing therapies for patients withdifficult-to-treat tumors."
"We were very pleased when Newman-Lakka approached usthrough our corporate business development office about this opportunity tocollaborate with experts in the search for better cancer treatments," says MaryLopez, director of the Thermo Fisher Scientific Biomarkers Research Initiativesin Mass Spectrometry (BRIMS) center that is supporting the collaboration. "Weanticipate great synergy between Newman-Lakka's cancer research expertise andour own strength in applying mass spectrometry to biological research and theadvancement of personalized medicine, which will give greater value to bothorganizations."
Lopez explains that BRIMS will help develop assays and workto deploy them at Newman-Lakka and the Genesis Research Institute laboratorythat is adjacent to the institute. The collaboration's advanced methods will bedeveloped at the BRIMS center in Cambridge, Mass., using Thermo FisherScientific's triple -quadrupole and high-resolution accurate mass spectrometryinstrumentation, coupled to mass spectrometry immunoassay technology and novelsoftware workflows. There will be informal milestones to measure progress, shenotes, as biomarkers are selected and assays developed and tested againstclinical samples provided by Newman-Lakka. No end date is scheduled, Lopezadds.
"Some collaborations have lasted for years," she notes.
In 1894, the Boston Floating Hospital was established by aCongregational minister, the Rev. Rufus Tobey. At the time, many believed inthe cleansing and therapeutic qualities of sea air to improve health, and Tobeyhad heard of a hospital ship for children in New York. For the next 33 years,two successive ships were home to the hospital for children in Boston Harbor.When the second ship was destroyed by fire, the hospital was relocated to apermanent building onshore.