Swedish Receives $2.5 Million Grant from the Ivy Foundation to Advance Brain Cancer Research

Swedish Receives $2.5 Million Grant from the Ivy Foundation to Advance Brain Cancer Research

SEATTLE, Nov. 29, 2012 – Swedish Medical Center announced today that the Ben and Catherine Ivy Center for Advanced Brain Tumor Treatment (Ivy Center) will receive an additional $2.5 million grant from the Ben & Catherine Ivy Foundation (Ivy Foundation). The grant, the second received from the Ivy Foundation in three years, will be used to identify new drugs with potential for clinical use in brain cancer treatment.

The Ivy Center used funds received from the first grant issued in 2009 to complete a pilot study aimed to target and eliminate cancerous tumor stem cells. Pilot study results published in Oncotarget on Oct. 23, 2012, show promise for new brain cancer treatment options that utilize drugs currently approved for other diseases and disorders. The Ivy Center identified Disulfiram, an existing FDA-approved treatment for alcoholism, as a top candidate for pre-clinical testing for the treatment of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), one of the most common and aggressive malignant primary brain tumors. Nearly 50 additional FDA-approved drugs were also identified as potential treatment options.

“Over the past five years, we have made tremendous progress understanding the molecular pathways activated in individual patient’s tumors. With the Ivy Foundation’s renewed support, we can continue to identify potential new treatments that target these pathways. This approach holds great promise to not only extend a patient’s life, but improve their quality of life as well,” said Dr. Greg Foltz, director of the Ivy Center at Swedish and senior author of the pilot study identifying Disulfiram as a treatment candidate.

The additional grant funding will be used to expand the initial project in two primary areas:

1. Pre-clinical trials to further validate the use of Disulfiram to treat brain cancer; and
2. A new study that tests 50,000 drug candidates against brain cancer stem cells – derived from a larger group of patients – to determine their ability to inhibit the growth of brain tumors.

According to the Central Brain Tumor Registry of the United States, every year more than 25,000 Americans are diagnosed with brain cancer or malignant glioma. About 60 percent to 70 percent of these cancers occur in the deadliest form, glioblastoma, with a life expectancy of 12 to 14 months. The ability to prevent recurrence or slow the growth of brain tumors is one of the most promising ways to treat this type of cancer.

“We believe wholeheartedly in the life-saving research conducted by Dr. Foltz and others at Swedish,” said Catherine Ivy, founder and board president of the Ivy Foundation. “Brain cancer has personally touched my life and the lives of so many others. It is a privilege to be a part of this project. We are hopeful that it may lead researchers to new treatment options.”

The Ivy Center at Swedish is not alone in its mission to find new treatments for brain cancer. In an independent study published simultaneously in Oncotarget, Dr. Sandra Dunn and her team at the University of British Columbia also identified Disulfiram as a drug with anti-tumor activity in GBM.

“Within one week’s time, our two groups showed similar results using direct patient tissue samples,” said Dunn, Associate Professsor and Faculty of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics. “We’re already hearing from patients from around the world who are interested in learning how this can impact their care. This is a very exciting time in brain cancer research.”

The Ivy Foundation’s commitment to brain cancer remains its singular mission. Since 2005, the organization has invested $50 million in brain cancer research around the world. In total, $5 million has now been gifted to the Ivy Center at Swedish.

About the Ben and Catherine Ivy Foundation

The Ivy Foundation is the nation’s largest privately-funded foundation with a mission of improving survival and quality of life for people diagnosed with a brain tumor. The Ivy Foundation’s approach is to fund Patient Focused Research (PFR) in gliomas to improve diagnostics and treatments for patients. In its inception year, 2008, the Ivy Foundation supported $10 million in research, which embodied the concept of Patient-Focused Research. Patient-Focused Research (PFR) keeps the patient and relevant clinical issues at the center of every research project. More information about the Ivy Foundation can be found at www.ivyfoundation.org, www.IvyFoundation.wordpress.com, www.facebook.IvyFoundation, or @IvyFoundation.

About the Ben and Catherine Ivy Center for Advanced Brain Tumor Treatment

Opened in 2008, the Ben and Catherine Ivy Center for Advanced Brain Tumor Treatment (Ivy Center) gives brain-tumor patients and their family’s access to a unique multidisciplinary team of skilled neurosurgeons, oncologists, radiologists, and a specialized nursing staff to deliver coordinated care and innovative treatments for both benign and malignant brain tumors. The Ivy Center’s unique design places its world-class research facility directly adjacent to the outpatient clinic, providing patients with immediate access to promising new therapies. As part of the Swedish Neuroscience Institute located in Swedish Medical Center’s Cherry Hill Campus, the Ivy Center is the first brain tumor-specific, community-based facility of its kind in the Pacific Northwest and is providing new hope for patients with all stages of brain tumors, including brain cancer.

About Swedish

Founded in 1910, Swedish is the largest non-profit health provider in the Greater Seattle area. It is comprised of five hospital campuses (First Hill, Cherry Hill, Ballard, Edmonds and Issaquah); ambulatory care centers in Redmond and Mill Creek; and Swedish Medical Group, a network of more than 100 primary-care and specialty clinics located throughout the Greater Puget Sound area. In addition to general medical and surgical care including robotic-assisted surgery, Swedish is known as a regional referral center, providing specialized treatment in areas such as cardiovascular care, cancer care, neuroscience, orthopedics, high-risk obstetrics, pediatric specialties, organ transplantation and clinical research. For more information, visit www.swedish.org, www.swedishcares.org,  www.facebook.com/swedishmedicalcenter, or www.twitter.com/swedish.  

About Providence

Providence Health & Services is a not-for-profit Catholic health care ministry committed to providing for the needs of the communities it serves – especially for those who are poor and vulnerable. In 2012, Providence affiliated with Swedish Health Services, expanding both organizations’ ability to carry out their individual missions. With this affiliation, the combined scope of services includes 32 hospitals, 350 physician clinics, senior services, supportive housing and many other health and educational services. The health system employs more than 64,000 people across five states – Alaska, California, Montana, Oregon and Washington – with its system office located in Renton, Washington. In 2011, Providence provided more than $651 million in community benefit, including nearly $204 million in free and discounted care for those who could not afford to pay for care. Providence Health & Services continues a tradition of caring that the Sisters of Providence began more than 155 years ago. In 2011, Swedish provided more than $145 million in community benefit in Western Washington. Together, Providence and Swedish are working to improve quality, increase access and reduce the cost of care in all of the communities they serve. For more information, visit www.providence.org.

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