PNNL picked for cancer research center

By Annette Cary, Herald staff writer September 4, 2011 

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland has been named one of five premier proteomics centers in the nation to study protein changes associated with cancer.

The National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, picked the lab as part of the launch of the Clinical Proteomic Tumor Analysis Consortium.

It's planned to be a comprehensive, coordinated team effort to accelerate the understanding of the molecular basis of cancer.

The five labs will examine samples from The Cancer Genome Atlas, created by sequencing the DNA of different types of cancer to show the changes to genes associated with the cancers.

The consortium will look for the protein changes involved in cancer and which ones prevent cells from functioning as they should. That could provide more information about the workings of cancer cells and how to better detect and treat the disease by identifying cancer-related protein changes in a patient's blood.

PNNL will serve as the Center of Application of Advanced Clinical Proteomic Technologies for Cancer.

It uses fast and sensitive proteomics instruments developed at the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory to seek out protein indicators of cancer, called biomarkers, in blood. They will try to identify rare proteins associated with breast, colon and ovarian cancer, initially focusing on ovarian cancer.

PNNL also is working with researchers at the Knight Cancer Center of the Oregon Health Sciences University to see how well certain therapies work on breast cancer, with the goal of developing personalized therapies for individual patients.

PNNL's lead researchers for the consortium are Dick Smith and Karin Rodland. They will have $15 million to spend during five years.

The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle also has been named to co-lead one of the centers with The Broad Institute in Cambridge, Mass.

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