Malloy announces Jackson Laboratory partnerships for new cancer treatments

Hartford — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Tuesday announced a partnership among The Jackson Laboratory, Hartford Hospital and the Connecticut Children's Medical Center to explore new approaches to cancer treatment.

"It's the invention that will come about as a result of these investments that will make it possible for people to live longer, to survive serious injury or serious illness and to do so at ultimately less cost," Malloy said.

The collaboration will focus on using genomics to find new treatments for different cancers that had been incurable. The project will also continue to grow the genomics industry in Connecticut.

"This is about bringing world-class care to our patients, developed right here in the state of Connecticut," said Jeffrey A. Flaks, president and CEO of Hartford Hospital.

Flaks said that network hospitals would also benefit from the partnership's advancements. The William W. Backus Hospital in Norwich is in the process of joining the network, but is not yet officially a member. Editor's note: This corrects an earlier version.

Clinical trials will be done at Hartford Hospital and Connecticut Children's Medical Center, said Edison T. Liu, president and CEO of The Jackson Laboratory. Patients who participate would consent to letting the partnership use their tumor material for experiments, said Michael Hyde, vice president for external affairs and strategic partnerships for The Jackson Laboratory.

A piece of the tumor would be placed into mice to grow the tumor, he said. Then different drug treatments would be applied to the mice to find out which drug treatments work on which tumors. As the scientists understand how the tumor works, they would begin to unravel the genomics, Hyde said.

They would also sequence the DNA of the tumor and the patient's DNA, he said. This should reveal what is going on with the tumor and how the drug treatment is fixing the tumor, Hyde said.

The Jackson Laboratory will be contributing $2 million to $3 million to get the projected started, he said. The money will go toward specialized labs for handling animals, high-powered computers and technicians. Hartford Hospital will also be pledging research investment funds, but the amount is yet to be determined, Flaks said.

"Our component is smaller, but we are committing a significant amount of our intellectual capital as well as some financial commitment because our physician scientists and researchers, all the people in our cancer center, are committing components of their time to the efforts as well," Flaks said.

Highlighting the expertise of regional hospitals and increasing the level of innovation in care delivery would increase economic activity, Liu said. People with new expertise will spawn other advantages and niche projects, he said, as well as draw in more experts from other regions.

Malloy said, "We want a society that has a better quality of life medically that reaches that better quality of life in a more affordable fashion. It is collaboration like this that over the next 20 or 30 years will allow us to in fact pay down our debt as a nation."

j.somers@theday.com

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