A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

Canary Foundation (Palo Alto, California), a nonprofit organization that funds research in early cancer detection, and Stanford University School of Medicine (Stanford, California) reported their commitment of $20 million to create the Canary Center at Stanford for Cancer Early Detection, a research center dedicated to improving cancer early detection.

The new center will include a first-of-its-kind facility that combines in vitro and in vivo strategies to enhance future cancer detection and patient management. The center will include cancer proteomic research for early blood/body fluid markers (in vitro diagnostics) and molecular imaging (in vivo) to verify the presence and location of tumors. Currently, there is a lack of clinical tools that reliably detect signs of early tumors. If these tools were made available, the hope is that physicians would have a much better chance of treating and even curing cancer.

Canary Foundation is pledging $15 million toward the center, doubling its earlier commitment to support early detection research at the university. The medical school, together with the school's Department of Radiology, is committing $5 million through faculty recruitments, research facilities, and other infrastructure.

The center will be led by Sanjiv Sam Gambhir, MD, PhD, professor of radiology and director of the molecular imaging program at Stanford and a member of the Stanford Cancer Center, and will include new faculty hires in both ex vivo and in vivo diagnostics.

The center is located in a newly renovated School of Medicine building on California Avenue in Palo Alto. It will have strong ties to the National Cancer Institute-designated Stanford Cancer Center with a view towards translating the early detection research into clinical practice.

"With the establishment of the Canary Center for Cancer Early Detection, we've realized our goal in building the first integrated facility that can attract and develop the best minds in the world to tackle the problem of cancer early detection," said Don Listwin, founder and chairman of Canary Foundation. "The facility is a part of our vision for the future – the one we're working towards – where one day most cancers will be detected early and eliminated."

Early detection has proven value. One example is the Pap test. Thanks to this simple screening test, there has been a 70% decline in cervical cancer incidence and deaths in developed countries since 1950.

Studies have shown that for nearly all types of cancer, the five-year relative survival rate is substantially lower when disease is caught in an advanced stage. In addition to saving lives, prevention and early detection have the potential to reduce the cost of treatments.

In other grants news, The National Institutes of Health reported giving $400,000 to for further development of a computer program used to analyze brain scans produced by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

The two-year grant is the first University of Central Florida (Orlando) has received from money allocated by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus program.

The funding will enable Mubarak Shah, UCF's Agere Chair professor of computer science, and his collaborators to work together on the complex task of automatically measuring and comparing the size of a tumor in 3-D from MRI scans.

Radiologists are typically hindered in their analyses by a variety of factors, such as tumors that are irregular in shape or have jagged edges, tumors with liquefied centers, or surrounding tissue that is deformed or changing shape.