NIH News Release
National Cancer Institute

Wednesday, October 6, 1999

Contact: NCI Press Office
(301) 496-6641

NCI Begins Funding Early Detection Research Network:
18 Biomarker Developmental Laboratories Seek Tests for Common Cancers

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) today awarded nearly $8 million in grants toward the creation of a network to discover and develop new biological tests for the early detection of cancer and of biomarkers for increased cancer risk. These awards create 18 Biomarker Developmental Laboratories to identify, characterize, and refine techniques for finding molecular, genetic, and biologic early warning signals of cancer.

The laboratories are part of the Early Detection Research Network, a research collaboration to evaluate biomarkers for common cancers, such as prostate, breast, lung, colorectal, and ovarian cancers. Advances in cancer research, including programs such as the Cancer Genome Anatomy Project, have uncovered a variety of molecules, proteins, genes, and other biological substances that may be the earliest warning signals that normal cells are on the road to becoming cancer. The Early Detection Research Network will translate these discoveries into methods for detecting these warning signals and ready the promising ones for testing in large-scale clinical trials.

"With the creation of the Early Detection Research Network, we are entering a new era of translational research, where the journey from the laboratory to the clinic is a coordinated, collaborative effort," said NCI Director Richard Klausner, M.D. "Ultimately, the Network will benefit patients by the rapid creation of better tests to find cancer and the discovery of points in time at which to intervene to prevent the disease."

The Biomarker Developmental Laboratories will be using a range of study designs and technologies in pursuit of developing molecular, genetic, and biologic markers. Nine of the 18 grantees will be collaborating with industry. The attached chart outlines the focus of each grant and lists collaborators.

The Biomarker Developmental Laboratories funded by these grants are one of three scientific components of the Network's Consortium for Biomarkers in Early Detection Research (see chart). Additionally, there will be Biomarker Validation Laboratories which will develop the tests so that they can be reliably performed by multiple laboratories and Clinical and Epidemiologic Centers to study the tests in patient populations. The Network also has a Steering Committee (made up of members of the network), an Advisory Committee (made up of outside experts), and a Data Management and Coordinating Center. Awards for those parts of the Network are forthcoming.

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Attachment: Table of Awardees