Jackson Lab receives $7.5 million grant from South Korea to develop gene-based cancer treatment

The Jackson Laboratory on Mount Desert Island is seen in an aerial photo taken in 2009.
Bridget Brown | BDN
The Jackson Laboratory on Mount Desert Island is seen in an aerial photo taken in 2009. Buy Photo
Posted Jan. 22, 2014, at 5:27 p.m.

BAR HARBOR, Maine — The Jackson Laboratory has been selected to receive a five-year, $7.5 million grant from the South Korean government for a cancer genomics project, lab officials announced Wednesday.

Jackson Lab will work with Seoul National University on the project, which will use the most up-to-date gene sequencing technology and special Jackson Lab mice that can host human tumors, officials said in a prepared statement.

Charles Lee, director of the lab’s center for genomic medicine in Farmington, Conn., will lead the lab’s efforts in the project and will work with Jong-Il Kim of Seoul National University’s College of Medicine and other academic collaborators.

Kim and his colleagues will collect and store human tumors from patients with gastric, breast, colon, lung and rare cancers and will sequence the genomic signatures of those cancers, according to the statement. Lee will lead the development of hundreds of new correlating mouse models that will be made available to the worldwide biomedical research community.

The research team also will create a publicly accessible library of anticancer drugs and a drug efficacy screening system, lab officials said.

Researchers hope to find genetic similarities among certain cancers that should help researchers conduct pre-clinical testing of which drug therapies may be the most effective for certain kinds of cancers, Jackson Lab officials said.

Project scientists plan then to apply their findings in clinical settings, developing a personalized anticancer drug screening system and developing a clinical trial network for that system.

“This is a wonderful example of the international collaborations that [Jackson Lab] is building to rapidly advance its research mission; in this case, individualized cancer diagnosis and treatment,” Lee said in the release. “This grant from the South Korean government shows there is international interest in the Jackson Laboratory’s approach to cancer research using [specialized mouse] models.”

Jackson Lab uses mice to research human disease and medical conditions. Each year, it produces millions of specially bred laboratory mice that are used in similar studies all over the world. The lab has nearly 1,300 employees in Bar Harbor and more than 200 in other locations, including Sacramento, Calif., and Farmington, Conn.

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