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NCI Announces Six Awards to Evaluate Cancer Signatures Program

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The National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, has announced that it has awarded six grants to collaborative research groups to explore how information derived from comprehensive molecular analyses can be used to impact the care of cancer patients and ultimately improve outcomes.

These grants are part of NCI's Strategic Partnering to Evaluate Cancer Signatures (SPECS) program.

The molecular signatures of a cell - identifiable characteristics such as levels or activities of genes, proteins, or other molecular features - can change as a cell becomes cancerous, signaling the presence of cancer as well as revealing important information about the features of a tumor.

The newly funded SPECS grants support multi-institutional, multi-disciplinary research teams that leverage NCI's investment in cancer clinical trials, cancer centers, NCI intramural program, and the SPOREs (Specialized Programs of Research Excellence) program.

They also support collaborations with biotechnology companies, community hospitals, the national laboratories, and academic institutions in the United States, Canada and Europe.

The newly funded SPECS projects are designed to bridge the gap between the discovery and application of molecular profiles by confirming, refining, and evaluating molecular signatures that previously have been demonstrated to be clinically useful.

These projects will also focus on developing reproducible assays for specific molecular signatures that will then be tested in clinical trials.

The grants, which total $10 million for the first year of funding, were awarded to six multi-institutes: Children's Hospital, Los Angeles, Calif,University of California, Irvine, Calif, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, Neb., University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, N.M., Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, Nashville, Tenn., Washington University, Department of Medicine, St. Louis, Mo.