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Ivy Foundation Grants $1.2 Million for Brain Cancer Study

The Ben & Catherine Ivy Foundation (Ivy Foundation) announced a gift of nearly $1.2 million to study brain tumor vaccines that combine a patient’s immune stimulators with tumor cultures from other patients.

The Ivy Foundation selected the study led by Allan B. Dietz, Ph.D., head of Mayo Clinic’s Human Cellular Therapy Laboratory, and Ian Parney, M.D. Ph.D., a neurosurgeon and immunobiologist, because of Dr. Dietz’s track record in brain cancer research, among other things.

“Mayo Clinic was selected as one of our brain cancer research partners because of the merit of the historical research done by Dr. Dietz and their ability to execute the project,” said Catherine Ivy, founder and president of the Ivy Foundation. “We believe this creative project will contribute important information to brain cancer research.”

The study will combine a patient’s optimized dendritic cells, known to be potent immune stimulators, with pooled and well-characterized cellular debris – known as lysates – from other patients’ brain tumor cultures to generate a tumor vaccine.

“We are combining this new approach with new methods for monitoring and tracking changes in the immune system,” said Dr. Dietz. “Together, we believe that this approach will allow us to identify and treat those patients most likely to benefit from this therapy.”

The Ivy Foundation has a research funding focus on glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the most common and deadliest of malignant primary brain tumors in adults, and is the largest privately funded brain cancer research foundation in North America.

“We are extremely grateful for the Ivy Foundation’s support for our brain tumor vaccine clinical trial,” said Dr. Parney. “Their help has been crucial to bringing this promising new experimental treatment to patients diagnosed with glioblastoma. With their assistance, we hope to improve the outlook for patients with this highly aggressive brain cancer.”

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Ivy Foundation Grants Over $9M for Brain Cancer Research

The Ben & Catherine Ivy Foundation (Ivy Foundation) announced its 2012 grant recipients, which total more than $9 million in funding for brain cancer research. The Ivy Foundation is the largest privately funded brain cancer research foundation in North America. Catherine Ivy is the founder and president of the Ivy Foundation, which has a research funding focus on glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the most common and deadliest of malignant primary brain tumors in adults.

The Ivy Foundation awarded the following grants and/or provided funding in 2012:

· $2,500,000 over three years:  Principal Investigator, Greg D. Foltz, M.D., Director, The Ben & Catherine Ivy Center for Advanced Brain Tumor Treatment, Swedish Medical Center
· $5,000,000 over five years:  Principal Investigators, John Carpten, Ph.D. and David Craig, Ph.D., Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) – a collaborative effort with University of California, San Francisco; University of California, Los Angeles; Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center; Massachusetts General Hospital; Dana Farber/Harvard Cancer Center; MD Anderson; and University of Utah
· $45,000 annually: Principal Investigator, Brandy Wells, Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), for the Ivy Neurological Sciences Internship program
· Over $2 million paid out in 2012 for previously committed multi-year brain cancer research grants

“We are encouraged and remain strongly committed to moving the progress forward for patients diagnosed with brain cancer,” said Ivy. “The 2012 Ivy Foundation grant recipients are important strategic partners in our objective to double the life expectancy of people diagnosed with GBM within the next seven years.”

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Ivy Foundation Contributes $10 Million To TGen For Research

The Ben & Catherine Ivy Foundation has awarded $10 million in grants for two groundbreaking brain cancer research projects at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

One $5-million-project is titled “Outliers in Glioblastoma Outcome: Moving the curve forward.” This five-year investigation seeks to discover why approximately two percent of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) patients — the outliers — live far beyond the average survival time of 18 months. GBM is the most common and aggressive form of malignant primary brain tumor; 98 percent of people diagnosed with GBM live less than 18 months.

“A major challenge with brain cancer is that people survive such a short time,” said Catherine (Bracken) Ivy, founder and president of The Ben & Catherine Ivy Foundation. “If this research enables patients to live longer, clinicians and researchers will gain a better understanding of how this disease works, which will bring us time to move closer to a cure.”

“The tireless and dedicated support of programs like the Ivy Foundation is helping transform ideas into medical reality,” said TGen President and Research Director Dr. Jeffrey Trent.

By precisely identifying the billions of molecular building blocks in each patient’s DNA through whole genome sequencing, TGen researchers hope to discover the genetic differences between those patients who survive only a few months, and those who survive longer because their brain cancer develops more slowly.

Using these genetic targets, TGen researchers will identify those patients most likely to benefit from the current standard of care, and those who might best benefit from alternative or new experimental treatments.

“If we can identify patients who will likely only survive a few months on current standard of care regimens we can then prioritize those patients for personalized clinical trials,” said Dr. David Craig, TGen’s deputy director of bioinformatics and one of the project’s principal investigators.

In the second $5-million project, “Genomics Enabled Medicine in Glioblastoma Trial,” TGen and its clinical partners will lead first-in-patient clinical trial studies that will test promising new drugs that might extend the survival of GBM patients.

This multi-part study will take place in clinics across the country and TGen laboratories.

This project begins with a pilot study of 15 patients, using whole genome sequencing to study their tumor samples to help physicians determine what drugs might be most beneficial.

To support molecularly informed clinical decisions, TGen labs also will examine genomic data from at least 536 past cases of glioblastoma, as well as tumor samples from new cases, developing tools that will produce more insight into how glioblastoma tumors grow and survive. TGen also will conduct a series of pioneering lab tests to measure cell-by-cell responses to various drugs.

“We expect to identify genes that play a crucial role in this cancer’s survival and that may be crucial to the survival of other types of cancer as well,” said Dr. Michael Bittner, co-director of TGen’s Computational Biology Division.

To get new treatments to patients as quickly as possible, this five-year study will include a feasibility study involving up to 30 patients, followed by Phase II clinical trials with as many as 70 patients. TGen intends to team with the Ivy Early Phase Clinical Trials Consortium that includes: University of California, San Francisco; University of California, Los Angeles; the MD Anderson Cancer Center; Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; University of Utah; and the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center.

The results of these clinical trials should not only help the patients who join them, but also provide the data needed for FDA approval and availability of new drugs that could benefit tens of thousands of brain cancer patients in the future.

“Working with physicians, the project will aim to get new drugs to patients faster, deliver combinations of drugs that might be more effective than using a single drug, quickly identify which therapies don’t work, and accelerate discovery of ones that might prove promising for future development,” said Dr. John Carpten, TGen’s deputy director of basic science, director of TGen’s Integrated Cancer Genomics Division, and another of the project’s principal investigators.

In addition to helping patients as quickly as possible, the projects should significantly expand Arizona’s network of brain cancer experts.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity to find more solutions for the patient diagnosed with brain cancer,” said Ivy, who also is working to establish additional clinical trials in the Phoenix area, giving local patients more treatment options. “The clinical trials are very exciting because they can impact the patient today.”

For more information on the Ivy Foundation, visit their website www.ivyfoundation.org.