SANTA MONICA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--HeritX, a nonprofit research and development organization, announced today a global initiative to develop the first medical prevention for inherited BRCA cancers. The organization, founded by business leaders, cancer researchers, oncologists and experts in drug development whose families are affected by BRCA gene mutations, will leverage the collective knowledge gained from more than 20 years of studying BRCA genes to accelerate research and—within the next decade—develop personalized, nonsurgical therapies that will prevent these genetic mutations from causing the cellular changes that result in cancer.
Assembling the world’s leading experts in this field last November, HeritX organized the first global conference dedicated solely to the goal of preventing inherited BRCA cancers at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s Banbury Center, a world renowned “think tank.” The workshop included 30 of the world’s foremost researchers and drug developers, as well as families affected by BRCA, and it produced the first research roadmap to develop new preventive therapies for people with BRCA mutations.
“Inherited BRCA cancers affect millions of people in the prime of life and impact entire families. It’s happened to my family and the families of other leaders in our organization,” said Thomas A. Bock, MD, MBA, chairman and CEO of HeritX, medical oncologist, former Global Head of Medical Affairs at Novartis Oncology and Celgene, and most recently, member of the executive management team at Alexion. “Unlike with other cancers, we already know the first step that leads to inherited BRCA cancers long before a diagnosis. HeritX is bringing together the brightest minds and best technologies across multiple disciplines to discover and develop therapies that will stop BRCA cancers before they start.”
The historic Banbury meeting, entitled Preventing Inherited BRCA Cancer: A Think Tank for Innovative Strategies, Milestone Objectives, and Research Priorities, was organized by Dr. Bock, in collaboration with:
- Alan Ashworth, PhD, FRS, President of the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of California San Francisco, Co-Director of the UCSF Center for BRCA Research, a key member of the team that identified the BRCA2 gene, developed the only targeted treatment for BRCA cancers.
- Lawrence Brody, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer of Inherited Diseases Research and Director of the Division of Genomics and Society at the National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health.
“During the Banbury conference, leading researchers converged to evaluate and prioritize specific strategies and steps for preventing inherited cancers, from repairing the malfunctioning BRCA gene copy to reducing BRCA gene function, BRCA vaccines and more,” explained Dr. Ashworth, who also serves as a scientific advisor to HeritX. “In addition to sparking this powerful dialogue, the HeritX team continues to engage researchers and institutions in implementing its R&D roadmap. With their knowledge, expertise and collaborative approach, this nonprofit is well positioned to leverage remarkable advances to achieve ambitious goals.”
Based on guidance from this conference, the organization developed and is implementing an integrated R&D roadmap for its HeritX Global Initiative to Prevent Inherited Cancer, a growing community of visionary leaders from academia, government, private industry, patient organizations, and philanthropy. HeritX is initiating research on the earliest steps that lead to cancer in healthy people and convening diverse teams of researchers, scientists, and thought leaders to spark and propose solutions and continuously push the roadmap forward. Its integrated R&D process eliminates the traditional “silos” that often impede progress and stifle innovation, connecting the wide range of experts needed to develop an approved therapy.
“Everyone wants to spare patients the trauma of cancer and of its treatment, but the vast majority of cancer research and resources still focus on treatment instead of prevention,” said Dr. Bock. “Current prevention techniques such as mastectomies are physically and emotionally traumatic and unacceptable as a future standard of care. With the amazing tools and technologies now at our disposal, we have an unprecedented opportunity—and historic responsibility—to prevent inherited cancers and apply these advances to open the door for cancer prevention at large.”
HeritX is the only organization focused solely on preventing inherited cancers, with an initial focus on inherited BRCA cancers. In 2015, we founded HeritX to apply our experience in cancer research, developing breakthrough therapies and global business to achieve this goal. Our mission is personal because our families are affected by inherited BRCA. Our collaborative approach to R&D reaches beyond traditional silos and integrates all expertise needed to develop preventive therapies—from basic research to making preventions available to patients worldwide.
The HeritX Global Initiative to Prevent Inherited Cancer is a growing community of scientists, innovators and thought leaders from academia, government, private industry, patient organizations, and philanthropy. Our immediate goal is to develop non-surgical therapies that will prevent inherited BRCA cancers within 10 years. Our long-term goal is to apply this knowledge to prevent all inherited cancers and ensure that families no longer have to fear carrying cancer genes. For more information, please visit HeritX.org.