NETRF Commits $4 Million for Neuroendocrine Tumor Research


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George Fisher, MD

George Fisher, MD

Daniel Chung, MD

Daniel Chung, MD

The Neuroendocrine Tumor Research Foundation (NETRF) has announced its largest research commitment ever—$4 million in collaborative grants—most from its new Accelerator Grants program to study neuroendocrine tumors, a widely misunderstood, commonly misdiagnosed cancer type without adequately identified genomic drivers.

Accelerator Grants recognize innovative and transformative research of neuroendocrine tumor drivers, capable of expanding the understanding of the disease and informing personalized treatment options. These grants are funded as part of a $15 million gift to NETRF by the Margie and Robert E. Petersen Foundation.

“We dedicated our first round of Accelerator Grants to understanding the genetic and epigenetic mechanisms that underlie the disease,” explained George Fisher, MD, Co-Chair of the Board of Scientific Advisors at NETRF. The 2017 NETRF projects investigate how and why neuroendocrine cells become cancerous. Researchers will use genomic sequencing, gene editing, and bioengineering approaches to look for specific changes in DNA, RNA, proteins, cells, and mini-organs to find and exploit key vulnerabilities.

Daniel Chung, MD, Co-Chair of the Board of Scientific Advisors at NETRF, announced the 2017 grants as part of the NETRF Annual Scientific Symposium, which was held recently in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Accelerator Grant Awards

Epigenetic Regulators of Intestinal Endocrine Cells and Carcinoid Tumors: Researchers will combine their expertise in stem cell biology with cutting-edge technologies to understand how neuroendocrine stem cells can go awry and give rise to tumors and how tumor cells are different in terms of growth and function. 

Finding the Cause of Small Intestinal Neuroendocrine Tumors: In an international collaboration, researchers will analyze small intestinal neuroendocrine tumor specimens to look for inherited or acquired changes in the genome. 

Modeling Neuroendocrine Tumors -Using Adult Stem Cell–Derived -Organoids: Researchers will engineer a “living biobank” of intestinal carcinoid and pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor tissue. 

Petersen Investigator Grant Award

The Role of ATRX/DAXX/H3.3 Chromatin Regulation in Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors: Researchers will study two key proteins involved in the development of neuroendocrine tumors.

Pilot Project Grant Award

Mutational Landscape of Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors Using the ‘Liquid Biopsy’: To support the application of minimally invasive targeted therapies in pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors, researchers will evaluate how accurately analysis of cell-free DNA from blood samples can detect genetic changes in tumor DNA, as compared with those in tissue biopsies, which could help inform treatment options for patients. ■


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