Array of Hope for Cancer Treatment

08/03/00    Portland, Ore.

HEDCO Foundation Grant Advances Pace of Cancer Research at OHSU.

The HEDCO Foundation of Northern California has awarded a $661,959 grant to Oregon Health Sciences University to complete development of a state-of-the-art facility for genetic research. Called the HEDCO-Oregon Cancer Center Gene Array Shared Resource, the grant puts the Oregon Cancer Center at the forefront of research into leukemia, as well as breast, colon and other cancers.

The gene array facility will provide services to researchers in all OHSU departments as well as the cancer center and is expected to speed advances in gene therapy, which targets cancers and other diseases at the molecular level. Researchers at OHSU will be able to compare cancerous cells side by side with normally functioning cells. Discovering which proteins are found only in either specific cancer cells or only in normal cells is critical to developing the next generation of oncology drugs.

Targeting proteins found in a deadly form of leukemia, known as chronic myelogenous leukemia, or CML, has helped Brian Druker, M.D., professor in the OHSU School of Medicine and hematologic malignancies program leader for the Oregon Cancer Center, to create a therapy that has shown great promise in clinical trials. The Gene Array Shared Resource will provide a much greater capacity to conduct similar research on leukemia and other diseases in a much shorter period of time.

"OHSU scientists will be able to compare as many as 85,000 genes in a single experiment," said Grover C. Bagby, M.D., director of the Oregon Cancer Center. "This is a tremendous leap in our capacity to better understand normal cells and what makes them different from diseased cells."

In addition to fostering Druker's continued research on CML, the Gene Array Shared Resource will be an immediate aid to studies led by Bagby of a rare blood disease that causes childhood leukemia called Fanconi anemia. Research on many other diseases also is planned.

"The Oregon Cancer Center commends the HEDCO Foundation for having the foresight to commit to this milestone in medical research on our campus," Bagby said. "This opens up a new world of understanding in human genetics, and gives new hope for developing effective cancer treatments."