News &

Media Contact

Amy Merves
Manager of
Media Relations



Fox Chase Cancer Center Joins An Elite Few As Part of the NCI's Early Detection Research Network

PHILADELPHIA (July 1, 2005) -- Fox Chase Cancer Center has been selected to join a scientific consortium of preeminent academic, private and government institutions - the National Cancer Institute's Early Detection Research Network (EDRN), focused on accelerating discoveries to aid in the early detection of cancer.

The EDRN is focused on translating new molecular findings, or biomarkers, into practical clinical tests that identify cancer at the earliest stages of a normal cell's transformation into a cancer cell, and to identify individuals at risk of developing cancer. The Network fosters highly collaborative, multidisciplinary research programs to improve the detection of cancer.

Fox Chase has received two EDRN grants. The first grant designates Fox Chase as the only cancer center for Clinical Epidemiology and Validation Center (CEVC) for breast cancer. Fox Chase's CEVC focuses on the validation of biomarkers related to breast cancer under the direction of Paul F. Engstrom, MD, PhD, senior vice president of population science.

"Early detection of cancer plays a pivotal role in patient survival and quality of life. If the cancer is found early, a cure is more likely," explains Engstrom. "The goal, however, is to accurately detect cancer at its earliest possible stage with a noninvasive test such as a urine or blood test."

Fox Chase's breast CEVC serves as a resource center for specimens to be used in collaborative research focused on breast cancer among EDRN centers. Fox Chase has assembled a multidisciplinary team of investigators focused on early detection and risk assessment biomarkers. It has an already-established network of treatment centers to foster early phase studies. The establishment of Fox Chase as a Clinical Epidemiology and Validation Center ensures consistent samples for verification and validation of research for specifically designed protocols.

"Fox Chase is well-suited to provide the materials necessary to expeditiously support research focused on the early detection of breast cancer," said Engstrom. "We have an extensive collection of biological materials donated by patient volunteers and healthy women at an increased risk of developing the disease." Initially, the main research focus will be detection of breast cancer in blood from women at high risk of the disease using promising new technology from Paul Cairns' research group at Fox Chase.

The second EDRN grant was award to Paul Cairns, PhD, designating his laboratory as a Biomarker Developmental Laboratory focusing on the detection of kidney cancer. Cairns and his colleagues face one of the biggest challenges in biomarker research: searching through hundreds of samples using a variety of technologies to identify candidate biomarkers. The researchers will examine the human genome and epigenome (genetic material), and the proteome (proteins made by genes), , looking for potential ways to identify cancer and cancer risk. In the quest to discover cancer at the earliest stage of progression, biomarkers often are used as mileposts of cancer progression. They mark critical events along the progression pathway from normal cell, to precancerous cell, to malignant cell.

"My lab is already are pursuing a novel biomarker to detect kidney cancer," said Cairns. "There is no biomarker test for kidney cancer as there is for prostate cancer as with the PSA test. Our work examines methylation of cancer genes detected in the urine that are indicators of kidney cancer."

Currently, kidney cancer is diagnosed after radiographic imaging of the kidney, which may include an ultrasound, CT scan and/or MRI. Biopsy of a kidney mass is often difficult to interpret or may give a false negative.

The EDRN is funded by the NCI's Division of Cancer Prevention.

Fox Chase Cancer Center, part of the Temple University Health System, is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence four consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach.  For more information, call 1-888-FOX CHASE or (1-888-369-2427).

More 2005 News Releases »