Mapping deadly brain cancer
May 14, 2015
Glioblastoma is one of the deadliest and most aggressive forms of brain cancer, with most patients not living past 15 months of their diagnosis. Despite the devastating impact of this disease, little is known about how to treat it and there are no existing cures.
The Ivy Glioblastoma Atlas Project (Ivy GAP) is a detailed resource that allows researchers around the world to better understand glioblastoma by identifying the key genes that are turned on and off in different regions of the tumor, and by providing information on the presumed cells that give rise to tumors. The resource has been updated with a robust new dataset that dramatically increases the scope of information about glioblastoma, and sheds new light on the intricate anatomy of glioblastoma tumors.
“Our ultimate goal is to change the outcome for patients with this devastating disease,” says Ralph Puchalski, Ph.D., scientist at the Allen Institute for Brain Science and co-Principal Investigator on the project. “The Ivy Glioblastoma Atlas Project is an unprecedented platform for exploring the anatomic and genetic basis of glioblastoma at the cellular and molecular levels. The atlas is an anatomic tour de force that is sure to provide vital information into how such tumors grow and invade healthy brain tissue.”
The Ivy GAP project began in 2006 when Greg Foltz, M.D., approached the Allen Institute for Brain Science to create an openly available atlas of glioblastoma to accelerate the pace of research. Dr. Foltz was on the path to becoming a concert pianist when a close family friend suddenly passed away from glioblastoma. He decided to change the trajectory of his entire life and abandoned a professional music career to dedicate his life to curing glioblastoma. He founded The Ben and Catherine Ivy Center for Advanced Brain Tumor Treatment at the Swedish Neuroscience Institute with a grant from The Ben and Catherine Ivy Foundation, and collaborated with the Allen Institute for Brain Science on Ivy GAP.
In a tragic turn of events, Foltz died of pancreatic cancer shortly after his fiftieth birthday in 2013.
“Dr. Greg Foltz had a razor sharp focus in life: to cure brain cancer,” says Nameeta Shah, Ph.D., research scientist at The Ben and Catherine Ivy Center for Advanced Brain Tumor Treatment at the Swedish Neuroscience Institute and co-Principal Investigator on the project. “Even during his own struggle with pancreatic cancer, he taught by example and made sure the scientists at the Ivy Center never lost focus and continued their efforts. The Ivy Glioblastoma Atlas Project is dedicated to him and will be his legacy.”
For more information on Ivy GAP, please see our press release.