publication date: May. 23, 2014

MSKCC Launches Molecular Oncology, Genomic Center


MEMORIAL SLOAN KETTERING CANCER CENTER
launched a molecular oncology and genomic analysis center, following a gift of $100 million. 

The Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Center for Molecular Oncology is named in honor of Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis, whose gift of $100 million will help fund the development of precision oncology, individualized cancer therapies and diagnostic tools.

David Solit will serve as the center’s first director. Archived tumor specimens and tissues obtained in clinical trials will be profiled by next-generation sequencing and other molecular technologies. The molecular information will then be correlated with clinical outcomes to study genetic alterations in tumors.

The center will also retrospectively analyze tumors of exceptional responders, defined as a patient who has a sustained response to treatment in a clinical trial in which almost all other participants do not. 

Solit’s research identified the biologic basis for an exceptional responder to the drug everolimus (Afinitor). Among a group of patients with advanced bladder cancer receiving the drug, one patient had a remarkable response compared to all others, whose conditions worsened weeks into treatment. 

MSK became the first academic institution to perform whole-genome sequencing on an exceptional responder. This resulted in the discovery of a mutation in the gene TSC1, which is known to activate the mTOR pathway, which everolimus targets. Based on this finding, MSK researchers developed a basket study in which the drug will be offered only to patients whose tumors test positive for TSC1 mutations.


JOYCE NILAND
was named chief research information officer at City of Hope.

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