SmartPractice donates $50,000 toward TGen liquid biopsy research
PHOENIX, Ariz. — June 30, 2017 — In support of efforts to find better ways of diagnosing and monitoring breast cancer patients, SmartPractice today donated $50,000 to the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).
This SmartPractice gift will support TGen's development of "liquid biopsies," which are simple, low-cost, non-invasive blood tests that can help clinicians more accurately treat patients with cancer.
Specifically, TGen is working with researchers at Mayo Clinic's Arizona campus on a study to test the effectiveness of liquid biopsies in the care of women with high-risk, early-stage breast cancer.
These non-invasive tests, which require a blood sample, could enable continuous monitoring of a patient's progress, letting doctors know if the cancer recurs. Standard treatment includes surgery, with chemotherapy and/or radiation. These tests also could help physicians determine when a patient has received enough post-operative treatment, or if additional treatment is needed.
"TGen's work in liquid biopsies could be a huge advance towards better care for breast cancer patients," said Dr. Curt Hamann, CEO of SmartPractice. "Their research holds great potential to substantially increase the effectiveness of cancer treatments, while minimizing side effects and even lowering healthcare costs."
Dr. Muhammed Murtaza, Co-Director of TGen's Center for Noninvasive Diagnostics, leads the research in this area. His team is using fragments of DNA, called circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA), which are shed by tumors and circulate in the blood stream of patients. These genetic markers could help determine the precise nature of each patient's tumor.
"Each patient's tumor is unique, and each patient's response to treatment is different," said Dr. Murtaza, who also is on the research faculty at Mayo Clinic in Arizona. "Using liquid biopsies, we hope to identify those patients who are most at-risk for their cancer to return, and which patients can be cured using the minimal amount of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, thus ensuring prompt and accurate treatment, while at the same time minimizing the potential for debilitating side effects."
"For each patient, we analyze their tumor samples to develop a personalized diagnostic test that can help identify residual disease or recurrence of cancer," said Dr. Murtaza. "If we are successful in demonstrating that residual disease can be accurately detected, or ruled out, using ctDNA, we will set up prospective clinical trials and national funding support to validate our findings and develop the next generation of precision-medicine treatment guidelines for early breast cancer."
Dr. Murtaza is working on the breast cancer study with Dr. Barbara Pockaj, a surgical oncologist and researcher at Mayo Clinic in Arizona.
Today's donation to TGen is the third made by SmartPractice, which also gave $50,000 last year, and $25,000 the year before, bringing its total donations to TGen to $125,000.
Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is a Phoenix, Arizona-based non-profit organization dedicated to conducting groundbreaking research with life changing results. TGen is focused on helping patients with neurological disorders, cancer, and diabetes, through cutting edge translational research (the process of rapidly moving research towards patient benefit). TGen physicians and scientists work to unravel the genetic components of both common and rare complex diseases in adults and children. Working with collaborators in the scientific and medical communities literally worldwide, TGen makes a substantial contribution to help our patients through efficiency and effectiveness of the translational process. TGen is allied with City of Hope, a world-renowned independent research and cancer and diabetes treatment center. This precision medicine alliance enables both institutes to complement each other in research and patient care, with City of Hope providing a significant clinical setting to advance scientific discoveries made by TGen. For more information, visit: http://www.tgen.org. Follow TGen on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter @TGen.
SmartPractice® is a family-owned, Phoenix-based firm that has partnered with dental and healthcare professionals worldwide for more than 45 years to improve the health of both their practices and patients. A portion of the proceeds of their innovative line of Pink Ribbon exam gloves and supplies generates a donation to fund breast cancer research and awareness programs. To learn more, please visit smartpractice.com/pinkribbon.
TGen Senior Science Writer