- Posted Tuesday August 26, 2003
TGen Signs First International Collaboration Agreement
Cancer study planned with Mexico's Consortium for the Institute of Genomic Medicine
August 26, 2003
Officials with the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and the Consortium for the Institute of Genomic Medicine in Mexico (INMEGEN) today signed a collaboration agreement to conduct joint research into diseases with major regional significance. The signing culminates a process begun in April when the two groups met at TGen headquarters in Phoenix to outline the goals and programs of both institutes that led to today's agreement.Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, in Mexico to meet with President Vincente Fox, attended the signing ceremony, along with other TGen and INMEGEN officials, including Mexico's Secretary of Health, Dr. Julio Frenk. Governor Napolitano, a TGen board member, said the signing represents an important step forward for Arizona and Mexico.
"The research that TGen and INMEGEN will conduct could improve the lives of millions of people in the United States, Mexico and the rest of the world," said Napolitano. "This innovative project is an exciting process to witness."
Specifically, research efforts will focus on diseases that have a disproportionate impact on members of the Hispanic population, including cancer and diabetes. Gastric cancer, which has a high incidence rate in Mexico and the Hispanic population within the United States, is the first project, said Dr. Jeffrey Trent, TGen President and Scientific Director.
Gastric cancer is the second leading cause of malignant tumors in Mexico. Worldwide, more than 800 thousand newly diagnosed cases occur annually. While research into how the disease affects all populations is critical, officials from both institutes recognize the importance of basing their research on the genetic structure and health needs of the Mexican population, rather than adapting research based on other populations to meet the needs of the Mexican people.
"The sequencing of the human genome has taught us that subtle genetic variations exist within populations. This collaboration will allow us to focus specifically on those nuances to better define the disease process as it pertains to the Mexican population, while at the same time, add important details to the puzzle that is the disease process as a whole," said INMEGEN director, Dr. Gerardo Jiménez-Sánchez.
In addition to research into gastric cancer, the scientists are certain that genomic research holds the answer to the multitude of diseases that affect both nations.
"Today's agreement represents what I hope is the first of many cross-border collaborations," said Dr. Trent. "The promise is tremendous: it will further the research of both organizations, but more importantly the outcomes will hopefully improve public health for both the US and Mexico, especially for those underserved populations."
Today's agreement is TGen's first formal international collaboration and represents an important milestone for TGen and its Arizona research partners. Including today's agreement, TGen has established four major research collaborations in its first 14 months of operation. They are:
April 2, 2003 with the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center, Phoenix, to develop a program aimed at determining the underlying causes of autism, a leading childhood developmental disorder.
April 25, 2003 with IBM Functional Genomics and Systems Biology Group in Poughkeepsie, NY, Arizona State University, the International Genomics Consortium and IBM Life Sciences to identify genetic markers for various cancers.
June 2, 2003 with the Salt River-Pima Maricopa Indian Community and the City of Phoenix to study the genetic basis of diabetes and other debilitating diseases.
The mission of the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is to make and translate genomic discoveries into advances in human health. "Translational research" is a relatively new field employing innovative advances arising from the Human Genome Project to apply to the development of diagnostics, prognostics and therapies for cancer, neurologic disorders, diabetes and other complex diseases. For more information about TGen, visit its Web site, http://www.tgen.org.
INMEGEN is the product of a vision embraced by Mexican President Vicente Fox, members of his cabinet and key national leaders who support the utilization of genomic research to alleviate national health problems as they have made genomic medicine a priority of the Mexican government. For more information about INMEGEN, visit its web site www.inmegen.org.mx