- Posted Wednesday January 14, 2015
Clinical trials on the horizon will build on recent TGen breakthrough into type of ovarian cancer that strikes young women and girls
PHOENIX, Ariz. - Jan. 14, 2015 - A recent matching-fund campaign challenge by the Friess Family Foundation has generated more than $282,000 for ovarian cancer research at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).
Lynn and Foster Friess donated a matching fund of $100,000, which was nearly doubled by other TGen supporters who gave more than $182,000, resulting in more than $282,000 to fund TGen's cutting-edge research in ovarian cancer, the 5th leading cause of cancer death among American women.
With the help of previous Friess Foundation support, an international team - led by TGen's President and Research Director Dr. Jeffery Trent - recently published research in the scientific journal, Nature Genetics, pinpointing the likely cause of a specific type of ovarian cancer - small cell carcinoma of the ovary, hypercalcemic type, also known as SCCOHT - which most often strikes young women and girls.
"Lynn and I are heartened by the tremendous outpouring of support in response to our matching-fund challenge," said Foster Friess, a noted investor and philanthropist. "Together, we can help TGen find new treatments for this awful disease that destroys the lives of young women in their prime."
Using genetic sequencing, TGen found that a particular gene called SMARCA4 was the only recurrently mutated gene in the study's 17 tissue samples, and that the absence of the protein in samples indicates that it likely suppresses tumor growth. As a result, TGen investigators hope to pursue clinical trials in the coming months that could lead to immediate patient benefit.
This type of ovarian cancer usually is not diagnosed until it is in its advanced stages. It does not respond to standard chemotherapy, and 65 percent of patients die within 2 years. It has affected girls as young as 14 months, and women as old as 58 years - with a mean disease onset age of only 24 years old. Much of the work in this study was inspired by the memory of Taryn Ritchey, a 22-year-old TGen patient who in 2007 lost her battle with SCCOHT, but whose cancer samples were key to helping TGen make its recent scientific discoveries.
"Taryn would be so happy and grateful that TGen's research could eventually lead to new treatments for other young women struck by this terrible disease, and that TGen was able to use her case to help find answers for others," said Taryn's mother, Judy Jost of Cave Creek, Ariz., who also is Foster Friess' executive assistant.
The TGen-led study included: Scottsdale Healthcare, Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins University, St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center, Evergreen Hematology and Oncology, Children's Hospital of Alabama, the Autonomous University of Barcelona, British Columbia Cancer Agency, University of British Columbia, and the University Health Network-Toronto.
"We are honored that Lynn and Foster Friess have brought their generous leadership and inspiration to TGen," said TGen Foundation President Michael Bassoff. "Their generous challenge grant has engaged countless others in support of TGen's fight against ovarian cancer."
For more information about TGen's research into SCCO, or to participate in a future study, visit: www.tgen.org/scco.
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Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is a Phoenix, Arizona-based non-profit organization dedicated to conducting groundbreaking research with life changing results. TGen is focused on helping patients with cancer, neurological disorders and diabetes, through cutting edge translational research (the process of rapidly moving research towards patient benefit). TGen physicians and scientists work to unravel the genetic components of both common and rare complex diseases in adults and children. Working with collaborators in the scientific and medical communities literally worldwide, TGen makes a substantial contribution to help our patients through efficiency and effectiveness of the translational process. For more information, visit:www.tgen.org.
TGen Senior Science Writer