The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard recently announced the launch of a new translational research platform to study rare cancers and develop a first-of-its-kind resource for the scientific community. The joint initiative will create a catalog of rare cancer models and provide a data resource to accelerate the identification of therapeutics to treat patients diagnosed with rare tumors.
The National Cancer Institute defines a rare cancer as one with fewer than 40,000 new cases per year. Cumulatively, rare cancers account for roughly one-quarter of all cancer cases and cancer deaths, but the low incidence of each different type of rare tumor presents a significant challenge to efforts to identify effective therapeutic approaches.
Timothy Heffernan, PhD
“Through this initiative, we hope to overcome some of the challenges that have prevented effective translational research in rare cancers,” said Timothy Heffernan, PhD, Head of Oncology Research in MD Anderson’s Therapeutics Discovery division. “By collaborating with the Broad Institute, we have a tremendous opportunity to create a valuable resource for the entire scientific community that will inspire and catalyze a wave of innovative research to advance impactful new therapies to patients in need.”
Commitment to Rare Cancers
MD Anderson is a world leader in the diagnosis and treatment of rare cancers. In 2019, MD Anderson established the Rare Tumor Initiative, a multidisciplinary effort to comprehensively characterize rare tumors throughout the course of patients’ care. This new joint translational research platform builds upon MD Anderson’s existing commitment to rare cancers with the goal of enabling rapid translation of new therapeutic insights.
This collaborative effort between MD Anderson and Broad will generate models of rare tumors from MD Anderson patients at the Broad’s Cancer Cell Line Factory, which works to expand the number and variety of cancer models available for research. These models will be analyzed extensively by the Broad’s Cancer Dependency Map project.