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National Brain Tumor Society Launches DNA Damage Response Consortium with Yale

Published on February 22, 2022 in Press Release

Consortium seeks to advance underdeveloped area of brain cancer research, advance drug development, and improve treatment options for patients


Today, the National Brain Tumor Society (NBTS) announced the launch of its new flagship research initiative, the DNA Damage Response Consortium, in partnership with Yale Cancer Center. The consortium will bring together a diverse team of renowned adult and pediatric researchers to rapidly advance a new class of promising potential treatments that can target a brain tumor’s DNA damage response network.

“The DNA Damage Response (DDR) is a highly conserved network utilized to repair broken DNA in the genomes of our normal cells,” explained Dr. Ranjit Bindra, Harvey and Kate Cushing Professor of Therapeutic Radiology and Scientific director of the Chênevert Family Brain Tumor Center at Smilow Cancer Hospital and Yale Cancer Center. “Members of this consortium and others have discovered that the DDR is often dysregulated in brain tumor cells, which reveals novel vulnerabilities that can be exploited for a therapeutic gain, thus allowing us to selectively target tumor over normal tissue.”

NBTS’s DDR Consortium will have the ability to incubate this emerging area of encouraging research and propel new treatments forward for multiple types of adult and pediatric glioma brain tumors, including glioblastoma, oligodendroglioma, astrocytoma, and ependymoma. The consortium plans to serve as a sophisticated and well-equipped vehicle that biotechnology companies with DDR-targeting compounds can engage for efficient experimental drug qualification by an expert and experienced team. 

“With drugs designed to attack tumors’ DDR network already transforming other difficult-to-treat cancers, this strategy needs to be quickly and expertly tested for brain tumor patients,” added Kirk Tanner, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer of the National Brain Tumor Society. “Our DDR Consortium will rapidly test different drugs against laboratory models and then bring the most promising ones forward to evaluate in early phase clinical trials with the goal of advancing towards regulatory review and ultimately to the market as new treatments for brain tumor patients. By rapidly conducting drug qualification and moving forward to clinical trials, we’re providing patients more opportunities, leveraging a treatment modality that is already showing effectiveness in other cancers.” 

The consortium’s work will commence immediately in the Bindra lab at Yale, as subcontracts are finalized with additional consortium partners in the near future. Moving forward, Dr. Bindra will serve as the consortium’s principal investigator, with Dr. Tanner at NBTS providing additional scientific leadership. “We’re assembling a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary team which spans the bench to the bedside, across the spectrum of adult and pediatric brain tumors, with a focus on rapidly translating the most cutting-edge DDR-based combination therapies into the clinic,” Dr. Bindra added.

“NBTS strongly believes that existing and future drugs and combinations discovered and advanced by this consortium have the potential to transform the treatment landscape for brain tumor patients,” said David Arons, Chief Executive Officer of the National Brain Tumor Society. “By focusing on experimental drugs that are either already FDA-approved, in late preclinical translation, or early clinical development, we expect that the consortium’s work will accelerate and improve the identification of promising treatments and their translation into patient-centric clinical trials. We feel that we can make the most impact for the most patients by going all-in to make this approach a reality. Harnessing the power of philanthropy, team science, and partnerships with biopharmaceutical companies, this initiative highlights NBTS’s commitment to funding treatment-focused research.”

More than $1 million is being committed to the start-up phase of the consortium’s development, with additional funding planned as the initiative advances. Initial funding is the result of generous philanthropic support raised by NBTS donors, including support from StacheStrong, a 501(c)3 non-profit devoted to raising funds and awareness for brain cancer research.

About the National Brain Tumor Society

Building on over 30 years of experience, the National Brain Tumor Society (NBTS) unrelentingly invests in, mobilizes, and unites the brain tumor community to discover a cure, deliver effective treatments, and advocate for patients and caregivers. Our focus on defeating brain tumors and improving the quality of patients’ lives is powered by our partnerships across science, health care, policy, and business sectors. We fund treatments-focused research and convene those most critical to curing brain tumors once and for all. Join us at BrainTumor.org.


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