Partnering for Cures

Posted by on Dec 29, 2009 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

In December, The Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation attended the inaugural Partnering for Cures meeting in New York City. As indicated on the Partnering for Cures website, this innovative meeting brought together philanthropy, medical research foundations, government, the biotechnology industry, and the pharmaceutical industry in an effort to create strategic collaborations key to the development of new medical solutions for diseases.

Despite the investment of extensive resources, numerous diseases lack cures or even meaningful medical treatments. Further underscoring the lack of advancement is the currently established evidenced-based research process that is estimated to take approximately 17 years. The Partnering for Cures meeting provided the forum to unite the key stakeholders, challenging them to design new solutions that will cut this time period, and lead to faster cures.

While we approached this meeting with two goals in mind: (1) evaluate how other orphan organizations leveraged their limited resources to foster innovation, and (2) establish relationships with philanthropists, biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, government, and medical research foundations; we walked away from the meeting learning so much more.

Key to the entire meeting: Collaboration. This has always been a key component of our mission, but our time at the conference opened our thinking, and realigned our collaborative efforts. Michael Milken, chairman of Faster Cures/The Center for Accelerating Medical Solutions, poignantly questioned why there are so many foundations supporting breast cancer, all working independently of each other. One collective voice in breast cancer would be louder and stronger, thereby accelerating advancements in medicine for that disease.

The Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation is already moving in this direction, evidenced by our ongoing collaboration with CanLiv: The Hepatobiliary Cancers Foundation. In pursuit of the CURE of bile duct cancer, both The Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation and CanLiv are committed to sharing resources where possible. Further, we are actively engaged in bringing together key stakeholders in the bile duct cancer and gallbladder cancer communities in a symposium in May 2010. Throughout the Partnering for Cures meeting, we met with the representative from CanLiv, Dr. Melanie Thomas, outlining partnering opportunities that lead to our common goal of the CURE. Our discussions yielded exciting developments for the May symposium, as well as potential approaches for establishing collaboration among bile duct cancer researchers.

In an effort to share innovative programs, the Partnering for Cures meeting invited many medical research foundations to present their novel approaches for bridging research across medical institutions and pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation shared their approach, a multi-institutional research consortium that includes approximately 13 medical institutions, such as The Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute, and the University of California San Francisco. In the past 5 years, this consortium established a data bank, tissue bank, and genomics initiative that are shared among the member institutions. The Multiple Myeloma Research Consortium is just one of the many exemplary programs featured during the Partnering for Cures meeting, all providing excellent models for advancing science through collaboration.

In addition to collaboration, the Partnering for Cures meeting focused much attention on personalized medicine. Historically, disease treatment has been driven by the location of the disease. In the case of bile duct cancer, treatments are driven by whether the cancer is distal, Klatskin, or intrahepatic bile duct cancer. Personalized medicine is a complete change in how treatment is determined for a patient. Personalized medicine focuses on genomic and molecular data to determine the treatment that is most appropriate for the individual patient. While this focus is exciting, it requires that we develop new processes for evaluating research in this area. Accordingly, the Partnering for Cures meeting spent several sessions investigating better processes for evaluating personalized medicine.

Overall, we felt that the meeting was highly successful in both content and connections. We are extremely excited to begin implementing the new initiatives derived from this meeting, and will provide updates throughout 2010.

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