In January of this year, we were presented with an enormous opportunity. National Institutes of Health (NIH) researchers had identified over 40 FDA-approved drugs that showed promise in cell line screening. If any one of those drugs proves effective, it could help chordoma patients immediately. However, before embarking on clinical trials, those drugs needed to be tested in animal models. Johns Hopkins University researchers were ready to begin testing the top 10 drugs identified by the NIH screening in newly-developed mouse models, but $200,000 was needed to get the project underway.
Realizing the importance of this project, a generous donor agreed to match every donation, dollar for dollar, up to $100,000. We quickly put out a challenge to the community, and the community rallied. From a magic show in California to a half-marathon in Edinburgh, Scotland, the response was overwhelming. In all, 393 donors contributed $137,475, for a total of $237,475, including the match.
Now, we are pleased to announce that we have awarded a grant to Gary Gallia, MD, PhD at Johns Hopkins University to carry out this project. Dr. Gallia is a skull-base neurosurgeon and cancer biologist whose lab focuses on developing new therapies for brain and skull-base tumors. His lab recently succeeded in developing the first primary skull-base chordoma xenograft mouse model, which is being used for this screening project, and has an extensive track record of conducting experiments in mouse models of brain tumors.
Experiments with the first five drugs are already underway and screening with the next five should begin later this year. Eventually, we aim to test at least 20 drugs; for each additional $20,000 that is raised, we will be able to screen one more drug.
We are deeply grateful to everyone who contributed to this important project and helped us take advantage of the matching gift opportunity. Thanks to your support, we are now moving closer to knowing if an effective treatment for chordoma already exists.
For more information about our drug screening project see: http://www.chordomafoundation.org/research/drug-screening-project/