David H. Koch – Prostate Cancer Foundation Nano-Medicine Gift Announced
$5 Million Award Creates Collaborative Team Across Four Leading Research Institutions
October 12, 2007 -- One of the largest-ever individual donations for prostate cancer research will unite researchers across institutions and disciplines in the field of nanotechnology. This research team, created by the Prostate Cancer Foundation, will seek to develop a novel nano-medicine that can be given intravenously and delivered directly to targeted prostate tumors. The five million dollar gift by philanthropist and business leader David H. Koch was announced at the Foundation's Annual Scientific Retreat.
While Koch has supported a wide range of medical research, prostate cancer is a topic of special interest – he is a survivor of the disease, along with his three brothers.
Koch explained why he chose the Prostate Cancer Foundation to be the recipient of his gift, "Nanotechnology has the potential to cure men with advanced prostate cancer without exposing them to severe side effects," said Koch. "The scientific team assembled for this work is the best in the business, and if it is possible for any group to be successful in the development of this therapy it will be this one."
A unique aspect of the collaboration developed by the Foundation is that all institutions have agreed to share their intellectual property in order to avoid bottlenecks and barriers to patentability that could impede the collaboration. Partner institutions in the collaboration include Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Weill Cornell Medical College, Brigham and Women’s Hospital at Harvard Medical School and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
In describing the gift and collaboration, Jonathan Simons, M.D., President and CEO of the Prostate Cancer Foundation, emphasized its importance. "David Koch's generous gift supports one of the most innovative and promising areas in prostate cancer research, and one of the strategic research priorities for the Foundation. We are grateful for both his philanthropic leadership and his vision for this unique kind of research collaboration." Koch is a member of the board of directors of the Prostate Cancer Foundation.
Nanotechnology is the field of research that involves materials that are extremely small – the size of atoms or molecules. It holds promise for the detection, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. "We are exploring if tiny nanoparticles can act as 'Trojan Horses' in the body, delivering medication directly to the cancer cells while bypassing healthy cells," explained Robert Langer, Sc.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who announced the gift at the Foundation’s Annual Retreat and who will be one of the leading researchers of the team. "This will permit the administration of drugs that might otherwise be too toxic, or dissolve too quickly in the bloodstream."
Researchers are also testing if diagnostic or imaging materials that only seek cancer cells can be administered to cancer patients, allowing doctors to pinpoint the location of cancer cells and their specific characteristics. Research findings presented at the Foundation's Annual Retreat by Langer and others have demonstrated success for the technology in animal models. "The research under this collaboration will focus on targeting cancer that has metastasized, or spread, outside of the prostate," explained Langer. "This advanced form of prostate cancer is the most serious, and only limited treatments are currently available." The ultimate goal of the nano-medicine project is rapid bench-to-bedside translation of the research to cancer patients, he noted.
Each partner institution will bring special expertise to this nano-technology research effort:
- Omid Farokhzad, M.D., an expert in nanotechnology therapeutic development and a former graduate of Professor Langer's laboratory, will be a principal investigator on the project and will lead the team for Brigham and Women's Hospital, a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School, and the administrative cite for this multi-institutional grant.
- Neil Bander, M.D., a physician-researcher with substantial experience in antibody-targeted therapies who has developed an antibody against the surface target for prostate cancer, will direct efforts at Weill Cornell Medical College.
- Philip Kantoff, M.D., is the leader of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center Prostate Cancer Program and director of the prostate cancer Specialized Program of Research Excellence. As clinical research director, he leads Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's team.
- Dr. Langer will lead the effort in engineering and manufacturing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as part of the MIT-Center for Cancer Research and the National Cancer Institute’s Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer.
"The Prostate Cancer Foundation seeks to be a pioneer in prostate cancer research," emphasized Simons. "In the kinds of cutting-edge, innovative research we support, as well as the ways we work to cut through the barriers of institutional red tape that impede scientific advancement. This exciting collaboration represents our best efforts in both areas."
"The Prostate Cancer Foundation has great experience and a wonderful track record of organizing successful endeavors," noted Koch. "I felt that by channeling my financial support through PCF that they would efficiently resolve the complexities of a multi-institutional collaborative effort. I am very pleased with the final result."
PCF is holding its annual Scientific Retreat October 11 – 13, 2007, in Lake Tahoe, CA.
About the Prostate Cancer Foundation
The Prostate Cancer Foundation is the world’s largest philanthropic source of support for prostate cancer research focused on discovering better treatments and a cure for prostate cancer. Founded in 1993, the PCF has raised more than $370 million and provided funding to more than 1,500 research projects at nearly 200 institutions worldwide. The PCF also advocates for greater awareness of prostate cancer and more governmental research funds. PCF advocacy has helped produce a 20-fold increase in government funding for prostate cancer since 1994. More information about prostate cancer and the PCF can be found at www.pcf.org.