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National Institutes of Health supports research to understand how genes affect responses to medicines in leukemia
With its new expansion of the Pharmacogenomics Research Network (PGRN), the National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital a prestigious grant to focus on anticancer agent research in children.
The five-year, $8.6 million grant is titled “PAAR4Kids—Pharmacogenomics of Anticancer Agents Research in Children.”
“We’ve been part of the PGRN for 10 years. But now, we will be the only PGRN group to focus on children, and we are partnering with NCI’s Children’s Oncology Group. We will be able to comprehensively study children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and we are moving some pharmacogenetic testing into real patient care,” said Mary V. Relling, Pharm.D., Pharmaceutical Sciences chair at St. Jude.
A scientist at St. Jude since 1988, Relling’s research focuses on pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics in children and how genome variability influences response to cancer chemotherapy.
In support of personalized medicine, the NIH has expanded the PGRN, a nationwide group of scientists focused on understanding how genes affect a person’s response to medicines. The NIH estimates it will spend $161.3 million over the next five years to expand the network.
Spearheaded by the NIH’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) and launched in 2000, the PGRN has already identified gene variants linked to people’s responses to medicines for cancer, heart disease, asthma, nicotine addiction and other conditions. The PGRN projects beginning this summer will build on this decade-old foundation and move the PGRN into several new areas: rheumatoid arthritis, bipolar disorder, and rural and underserved populations.
Along with St. Jude, the other PGRN research groups include University of California, San Francisco; University of Florida, Gainesville; University of California, San Diego; Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute, Calif.; University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; University of Toronto; Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Mass.; The University of Chicago, Ill.; Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tenn.; The Ohio State University, Columbus; University of Maryland, Baltimore; University of Washington, Seattle; and Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.
PAAR4Kids is funded by three NIH components: NIGMS, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and the National Cancer Institute. Other NIH components funding the PGRN include the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; the National Institute on Drug Abuse; the National Human Genome Research Institute; the National Institute of Mental Health; the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases; and the Office of Research on Women’s Health in the Office of the Director.
The project described was supported by Award Number U01GM092666 from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences or the National Institutes of Health.
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is internationally recognized for its pioneering research and treatment of children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases. Ranked the No. 1 pediatric cancer hospital by Parents magazine and the No. 1 children’s cancer hospital by U.S. News & World Report, St. Jude is the first and only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children. St. Jude has treated children from all 50 states and from around the world, serving as a trusted resource for physicians and researchers. St. Jude has developed research protocols that helped push overall survival rates for childhood cancer from less than 20 percent when the hospital opened to almost 80 percent today. St. Jude is the national coordinating center for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium and the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study. In addition to pediatric cancer research, St. Jude is also a leader in sickle cell disease research and is a globally prominent research center for influenza.
Founded in 1962 by the late entertainer Danny Thomas, St. Jude freely shares its discoveries with scientific and medical communities around the world, publishing more research articles than any other pediatric cancer research center in the United States. St. Jude treats more than 5,700 patients each year and is the only pediatric cancer research center where families never pay for treatment not covered by insurance. St. Jude is financially supported by thousands of individual donors, organizations and corporations without which the hospital’s work would not be possible. In 2010, St. Jude was ranked the most trusted charity in the nation in a public survey conducted by Harris Interactive, a highly respected international polling and research firm.