> Institute To Create New Therapies For Brain Cancer
> Continuing its leading-edge research into treatments for malignant
diseases, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is launching a new, comprehensive
neuro-oncology center to focus on the genetics of brain development -- with
the goal of creating new clinical therapies for brain cancers and other
> The Charles A. Dana Foundation, whose support of the Institute spans
nearly four decades, has awarded it $7.4 million for the establishment of
the David Mahoney Center for Neuro-Oncology. The center -- which is the
Institute's first major undertaking on the genetics of brain development --
will enable Dana-Farber and other Harvard Medical School-affiliated
researchers to gain valuable insight into the process of both normal and
abnormal brain development.
> Members of the center will be drawn from throughout the affiliated
hospitals of Harvard Medical School.
> The new program has set an ambitious schedule to develop a multitude of
nationally-useful components, including a central nervous system and human
brain tumor gene expression data bank, new mouse models of brain cancer, and
an academic training program that would train physician-scientists in
neuro-developmental genetics and neuro-oncology.
> "With the discovery of new cancer-causing genes comes a tremendous
opportunity to develop therapies to target these mutant genes and reverse
the malignant characteristics of brain tumors," said Dana-Farber president
David G. Nathan, MD. "A more precise understanding of human brain
development will bring to light attractive targets for therapies to treat
these lethal cancers. This generous grant from the Dana Foundation will
undoubtedly help make great strides toward cures."
> The center is named after a longstanding Dana-Farber supporter and
trustee, David Mahoney, who served as chairman and chief executive officer
of the Charles A. Dana Foundation, a private, philanthropic organization,
until his death on May 1.
> Mahoney, a successful entrepreneur who led the Foundation since 1977,
initiated an extensive grant program -- particularly in brain research and
education -- that challenged researchers to join forces and use their
imagination to defeat diseases of the brain.
> "This is an intriguing, challenging and critical area of research," said
Edward F. Rover, president of the Charles A. Dana Foundation and a member of
its Board. "The Charles A. Dana Foundation is supporting the work that will
be done at the Center because it believes that the results of that research
will have significant clinical applications which will benefit patients and
> The Charles A. Dana Foundation's long history of devotion to Dana-Farber
was reflected in the renaming of the Sidney Farber Cancer Institute in 1983
to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The Foundation has given nearly $33
million to the Institute since 1962.
> Mahoney and his spirit of scientific exploration spearheaded much of the
organization's generosity towards Dana-Farber.
> Deputy principal investigator Charles Stiles, Ph.D., chairman of the
department of Cancer Biology at Dana-Farber and professor at Harvard Medical
School, said that the center will bring clinicians, physician-scientists and
molecular biologists together to attack the genetic basis of central nervous
> "Our first major initiative will be a project to identify, clone and
characterize genes that direct the formation of the normal human brain,"
said Stiles. "We reason that these are the genes that give rise to cancer of
the brain when their expression is disturbed. The proteins encoded by these
genes will make attractive targets for the design of therapies that can
penetrate the blood/brain barrier and selectively kill brain cancer cells."
> Stiles went on to say that many of the genes that regulate normal brain
development are likely to figure into the biology of other central nervous
system disorders, including Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease,
Multiple Sclerosis and spinal cord injury.
> Cancers of the central nervous system represent some of the most lethal
cancers. Epidemiological data shows that primary cancers of the central
nervous system are the third leading cause of cancer-related death among men
15-34 years of age.
> Among children, these cancers are the most common solid tumor and are the
leading cause of cancer-related death in children. Prognosis of patients
with these severe malignancies has not substantially changed for nearly two
> Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is among the leading cancer research and care
centers in the country and is the only center in New England to be a
federally-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center and Center for AIDS
> The Charles A. Dana Foundation is a private, philanthropic, non-profit
organization with particular interests in neuroscience and education. - By
> Related website:
> Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
> [Contact: Todd Ringler]
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