Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center has announced a $100 million gift from the Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Foundation to establish a center for molecular oncology that will focus on improving cancer care and research through genomic analysis.
Named in recognition of the gift, the Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Center for Molecular Oncology (CMO) will work to reshape clinical trials and speed the translation of novel molecular discoveries into routine clinical practice. Among other things, the gift will enable the center to profile archived tumor specimens and tissues obtained in clinical trials using next-generation sequencing and other molecular technologies. The molecular information obtained from each specimen will then be correlated with clinical outcomes to better understand the significance of genetic alterations in tumors and the opportunities they offer for treating cancers more precisely.
To reach its goal of analyzing more than ten thousand tumors in its first year, the center will bring together a number of existing facilities and researchers, including two next-generation sequencing facilities — one that will sequence patient samples in real time and the other focused on the discovery of new genetic alterations and drug targets. New lab space that includes state-of-the-art instrumentation for the generation and analysis of large-scale genomic data also will be constructed.
A key priority of the center will be to enroll patients in phase I clinical trials called basket studies, in which therapies are offered to patients whose tumors test positive for certain mutations regardless of cancer type. In addition, the center will sequence both healthy cells and tumor cells in all patients with metastatic cancer.
"Progress in our understanding of the biology of cancer has completely shifted the way we think about and treat cancer," said MSK president and CEO Craig Thompson. "We're moving away from the concept of treating cancer as many different types of the same disease and toward treating each person's cancer as its own unique disease. Now, thanks to the inspiring generosity of the Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Foundation, we will be able to expand and intensify this effort, ushering in what will truly be a new era of precision medicine."