Mason‒TGen Officially Launch Molecular Medicine Alliance

Posted: May 9, 2014 at 4:37 pm, Last Updated: May 13, 2014 at 8:43 am

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By Michele McDonald

George Mason University and Phoenix-based Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) officially launched a new Molecular Medicine Alliance  today.

The alliance is the first of its kind in the growing field of precision medicine––an approach that uses a patient’s molecular profile to personalize treatment and medications.

The TGen–George Mason Molecular Medicine Alliance builds upon expertise from both institutions. Mason has pioneered proteomics, or the study of proteins, while TGen is a world leader in genomic, or DNA, research. Combined, proteomics and genomics delve into the underlying causes of disease and can pinpoint the best treatment for each patient.

Mason president

Mason president Ángel Cabrera and TGen president Jeffrey Trent, who also is TGen’s research director, signed the memorandum of understanding (MOU) to create the Molecular Medicine Alliance. Photo by Alexis Glenn.

Mason president Ángel Cabrera and TGen president Jeffrey Trent, who also is TGen’s research director, signed the memorandum of understanding (MOU) to create the alliance. William A. Hazel Jr., secretary of Health and Human Resources for the Commonwealth of Virginia, was on hand to help introduce the groundbreaking partnership to the community.

Lance Liotta and Emanuel “Chip” Petricoin, co-founders of the Mason-based Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine, have pioneered proteomic research and began exploring ways to work with TGen last year. The result is the Molecular Medicine Alliance.

Petricoin notes both Mason and TGen have worked on similar projects but from different research approaches. For example, they worked independently of each other on the Side-Out Trial, which found new treatment options for women with metastatic breast cancer. Bryant Dunetz, chief operations officer of the Side-Out Foundation, also attended today’s event. Marc Tremblay, president of Clinical Diagnostics, a division of Thermo Fischer Scientific, and Steve Porter, president of Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center, lent their support to the alliance announcement.

More research is in the works. By integrating genomics and proteomics, the alliance will initially focus on discoveries in four specific areas of research:

  • New treatments for patients with breast cancer or melanoma.
  • Treatments for patients with breast cancer that has spread to the bone and brain.
  • Biomarkers that can help diagnose traumatic injuries, such as brain concussions.
  • Developing a better understanding of infectious diseases and the human immune system, leading to new vaccines.

Write to Michele McDonald at mmcdon15@gmu.edu

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