Finding the Cancer Treatments of Tomorrow

11/26/2014

(Bangor, Maine) – Advancing scientific discovery for the purpose of creating new cancer treatments. That’s the goal of EMMC Cancer Care’s Translational Research Laboratory, a new, state-of-the-art lab on the third floor of the Lafayette Family Cancer Center where a small team will be playing a big role in helping researchers prevent, diagnose, and treat disease.

Since 2011, EMMC Cancer Care’s Biorepository has collected fresh cancer tissue specimens during surgery for use by researchers at The Jackson Lab. Since EMMC has not had the capabilities required for processing and storing the tissue samples, they had to be brought to The Jackson Lab right away. The Translational Research Laboratory builds upon this work by allowing EMMC to process tissue and blood specimens into their various components and store the samples for future research.

“Translational research has several components,” says Jens Rueter, MD, medical director of EMMC’s Translational Research Program. “Physicians ask clinical questions that help identify patients who may be able to participate, patients donate tissue for research, and scientists use the samples to make new discoveries. It takes support from the patient, physician, scientist, and a tissue bank that processes and provides samples to make it all happen.”

The lab also provides work space for EMMC researchers and other scientists to conduct leading-edge, original research. One example is a collaboration between Dr. Rueter and scientists at The Jackson Lab to develop new treatments for chronic lymphocytic leukemia, a bone marrow and blood disease and one of the most common types of leukemia in adults. The team has already shared some of their discoveries with the scientific community, and their progress continues.

As with any project of this magnitude, the Translational Research Laboratory would not have been possible without the support of the community and EMMC staff and physicians.

“What we’re doing is truly remarkable for a cancer center in a rural area,” adds Dr. Rueter. “This new lab exists thanks to the support of everyone who participates in the Champion the Cure Challenge, which funds much of our work. And perhaps most importantly, we are able to do this research because patients have donated samples.”