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July 22, 2013

Purdue Center for Cancer Research part of Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Rivals on the field are uniting in the laboratory to transform cancer research through a collaboration of Big Ten university cancer centers, including the Purdue University Center for Cancer Research.

"The Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium allows us to more easily work together, tap into each other's expertise and share resources," said Tim Ratliff, the Robert Wallace Miller Director of the Purdue Center for Cancer Research.

In addition to combining the scientific and clinical expertise of the Big Ten universities, the consortium eases the processes involved in collaborative clinical trials. The consortium will establish one internal review board to approve proposed trials, eliminating the need for review and approval from each university's internal review board, Ratliff said.

"Our goal is to get the best treatments possible to patients as quickly as we can," he said. "A unified internal review board eliminates one of the big roadblocks to collaboration and will shave many months off of the time it takes to start a dual or multi-university clinical trial. This will translate into faster approval of new technologies and treatments."

The consortium also will share access to tissue specimens obtained during the clinical trials, which are critically needed for cancer research but in short supply, Ratliff said.

"We want to pull as much information and insight as we possibly can from these valuable specimens," Ratliff said. "With our expertise we can perform additional tests and go beyond whether a potential drug is or is not working and discover why. We can find out what is going on in the tissue and in the cells and feed that back into the research."

Purdue's strengths in cancer targeting, imaging and technologies to enable personalized medicine fit well with the consortium, Ratliff said.

"Our researchers have developed technology that shows whether a patient's cancer cells have the appropriate receptor to respond to a therapy, tools to monitor the levels of drugs in the blood and fine tune its administration, as well as tools to monitor the efficacy of a therapy in real time," he said. "We also have pioneers in targeting cancer cells and effectively delivering drugs to those cells without harming healthy cells. This consortium will help take those discoveries to the clinic."

The Purdue Center for Cancer Research is one of seven National Cancer Institute-designated basic-research facilities in the United States. Its mission is to discover how cancers develop, progress and respond to treatment and to advance new medicines, diagnostic tools and treatment devices. The center currently has 14 drugs in clinical trials.

The Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium is made up of the following universities and cancer centers:

* Indiana University (Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center)

* Northwestern University (Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center)

* Penn State (Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute)

* Purdue University (Purdue University Center for Cancer Research)

* Rutgers University (The Cancer Institute of New Jersey)

* University of Illinois (University of Illinois Cancer Center)

* University of Michigan (University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center)

* University of Minnesota (Masonic Cancer Center)

* University of Nebraska (Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center)

* University of Wisconsin (Carbone Comprehensive Cancer Center)

The Indianapolis-based Hoosier Oncology Group will serve as the administrative headquarters for the consortium.

Writer: Elizabeth K. Gardner, 765-494-2081, ekgardner@purdue.edu

Source: Tim Ratliff, 765-494-9129, tlratliff@purdue.edu