With a potential value of over $2 million, award will back brain tumor research.

The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) has been awarded a contract that could total about $2.07 million over three years to use computer simulations for brain cancer research. It joins four other national centers that have been selected by SAIC-Frederick under its prime contract with the NCI called the In Silico Research Centers of Excellence contract.

The award partners TGen with 5AM Solutions, a Virginia-based life science software development firm. They will initially receive $691,930 for the first 12 months. The contract has two 12-month option periods that if executed would amount to an additional $1,373,582.

The TGen center of excellence will use computer tools developed as part of the NCI Cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid (caBIG®), which is a data-sharing network for researchers, physicians, and patients. The caBIG program is designed to accelerate methods for detecting, diagnosing, treating, and preventing cancer.

TGen researchers will also use in silico research in a program called “Test to Best,” which leverages genomic data involving 40 brain tumor models and 20 proven types of targeted therapies. The aim is to create treatment programs for brain tumor patients.

“This will be a very unique data set, representing the largest collection of patient brain tumor models and the widest variety of therapies applied in a controlled setting,” says Michael Berens, Ph.D., head of TGen’s brain tumor research lab.

“Now that you have this data, how can you best exploit it for the next patient who walks into the neuro-oncologist’s office?” asks Dr. Berens. He believes that the answer should be revealed through analytical tools developed by the TGen and 5AM Solutions. “We hope to create a process where a patient’s tumor would align with one of these models, and we would know which of the 20 treatments was the best one against that tumor. It’s a path to evidence-based personalized therapy.”

The tumor models and therapies have been developed through the Ivy Genomics Based Medicine project. It is directed by Dr. Berens at TGen and funded through a $3 million grant from the Ben and Catherine Ivy Foundation.

Besides TGen, the other four centers of excellence are at Columbia University, Emory University, Georgetown University, and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

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