The Georgetown University Medical Center boosted its research capacity this July by finalizing an agreement with Indivumed GmbH, a private company based in Hamburg, Germany, to develop a cancer research database. The biobank will help researchers collect and analyze data to provide more personalized treatment for patients.
“Only a handful of comprehensive cancer centers [have] embarked on this type of ambitious project, and none of them have the great resource that Indivumed provides,” said Louis Weiner, director of the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. “We’re very excited about this project.”
With the announcement of the new collaboration on July 29, the Lombardi Center, which sees roughly 4,000 new cancer patients each year, is building upon an already existing one-year agreement that established a tumor biobank and clinical database for pancreatic cancer. Under the new partnership with Indivumed, the database will now include breast cancer and colon cancer.
Indivumed will help in providing more samples for the biobank already in place, which will eventually be distributed nationally after developing partnerships with national health systems.
Indivumed’s biobanking system is a collection of data from patients, which, when analyzed, will allow for personalized therapy for each cancer patient.
Hartmut Juhl, CEO of Indivumed and associate professor at the Medical Center, said this therapy will be much more effective in the long run, since some patients may require a more specific or alternative treatment method.
“I think in the short term there is no effect, because this is research we are starting here,” Juhl said. “When we have enough patients studied, I’m very sure this will have a dramatic effect on [them].”
Juhl also believes that his company can help make the Lombardi Center a special place for cancer research.
“This database, and the related biobanking, is a much better resource for scientists, and I’m absolutely sure this is a unique project. This is not done in any other place,” he said.
Indivumed began working with the Medical Center when Juhl, looking to expand his research capabilities into the United States, teamed up with Anton Wellstein, associate director of basic science at the Medical Center, to extract pancreatic cancer specimens. After four months, 30 specimens had already been extracted.
“We believe that this systems biomedicine approach will form the foundation for truly personalized medicine and for research to study the molecular abnormalities that track with cancer clinical outcomes,” Weiner said.