Today, in an unprecedented collaboration among private funding organizations throughout North America, eight organizations announced they are jointly requesting proposals for new ways to develop effective treatments for children and adults diagnosed with brain tumors.
The eight founding members of the Brain Tumor Funders’ Collaborative (BTFC) are: the American Brain Tumor Association, Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada, Brain Tumor Society, Children’s Brain Tumor Foundation, the Goldhirsh Foundation, the James S. McDonnell Foundation, the National Brain Tumor Foundation and the Sontag Foundation. BTFC’s goal is bridging the “translational gap” that prevents promising laboratory findings from yielding new medical treatments.
For individuals diagnosed with aggressive brain tumors called “gliomas” the dedicated and heroic efforts of researchers, clinicians, patients, and families has been unable to alter the devastating outcome. For most patients the tumors will be lethal. “The aggressive nature of gliomas, the logistical difficulties in delivering drugs across the blood-brain barrier, and the functional uniqueness of the human brain all contribute to the lack of progress against these deadly tumors” explains Rob Tufel of the National Brain Tumor Foundation.
Other hurdles are also contributing to the lack of progress. The Brain Tumor Society’s Neal Levitan points out that “the preclinical pipeline for the identification and testing of potential new therapies is fragmented among different populations of research scientists and clinicians. The current system is dated and fails to take optimal advantage of the biomedical community’s emerging capacity for discovering, testing, and developing novel therapies.” The disconnection between the experimental systems used at the laboratory bench and the clinical realities of patients often means that compounds showing promise in early phases of pre-clinical research
fail in later stages of clinical investigation. “It is time for the new tools of genomics, proteomics, complex systems biology, and informatics to be brought to bear on the quest for new brain tumor therapeutics,” observes Susan Fitzpatrick of the James S. McDonnell Foundation.
The new funding initiative, developed after two years of workshops identifying opportunities and barriers to progress, is aimed at addressing the frustrations of scientists and clinicians working in the brain tumor field. “BTFC decided to target its funding towards helping researchers develop new approaches, new ways to assemble information, and enabling them to form new colleague connections to make this happen,” stated American Brain Tumor Association’s Naomi Berkowitz. Susan Marshall, with the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada continues “With BTFC support, newly formed teams will be able to design novel, innovative, approaches to the problem of moving promising results from basic and pre-clinical research to drug development and clinical applications.”
“Progress against this horrible disease requires new collaborations assembling skills and expertise not traditionally associated with brain tumor research,” according to Goldhirsh Foundation’s Rita Berkson Noting that it is not only the scientists who need to collaborate, Kay Verble of the Sontag Foundation added “We thought it only fair that if we were asking researchers to broaden their collaborations then so should the funders!” Long-time brain tumor research advocate Susan L. Weiner, of Children’s Brain Tumor Foundation is overjoyed with the collaborative nature of new funding initiative. “BTFC represents a dream come true. Together, we can do what no one organization could do alone.”
BTFC member organizations and primary contacts:
- American Brain Tumor Association - Naomi Berkowitz 847.827.9910
- Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada – Susan Marshall 519.642.7755 x 22
- Brain Tumor Society – Neal Levitan 617.924.9997
- Children’s Brain Tumor Foundation – Susan L. Weiner 718.788.1503
- Goldhirsh Foundation – Rita Berkson 203.488.2697
- James S. McDonnell Foundation – Susan Fitzpatrick 314.721.1532
- National Brain Tumor Foundation – Rob Tufel 800.934.CURE x 107
- Sontag Foundation- Kay Verble – 904.273.8755