A tissue donation portal opened today at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), which will advance research towards new treatments for an aggressive brain cancer that mostly strikes young children.
This new portal will accelerate the ability of families of children with DIPG — or Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma — to help TGen build a tissue bank that will aid researchers in their investigations of this rare and currently incurable disease that strikes about 350 children in the U.S. each year. Average survival following diagnosis is only one year.
“DIPG is such a rare and complicated cancer that relatively little is still known about its cause, let alone how we might successfully treat it,” said Dr. Michael Berens, a TGen Deputy Director, Director of TGen’s Cancer and Cell Biology Division, and head of TGen DIPG research. “By assembling tissue samples, we are becoming better equipped to probe the molecular underpinnings of DIPG and begin to find more clues that will lead to better treatments.”
Also today, Paul and Cyndi Cozzi of Bonney Lake, Wash., contributed $25,000 to TGen DIPG research efforts on behalf of their 18-year-old son Camron, who recently succumbed to this aggressive cancer. Today’s donation brings to $85,000 the total amount donated to TGen DIPG research by the Cozzi family.
“Our son Cam was an extraordinary and vibrant teenager with a passion for life, and especially for playing lacrosse and other sports. We want to do all we can to help prevent the sons and daughters of others from being suddenly cut down by DIPG just when their precious lives are taking flight,” said Cyndi Cozzi.
“We believe TGen has the resources and the drive to bring together a host of research institutions that together will discover new treatments, initiate new clinical trials, and help stop this devastating disease,” said Paul Cozzi. “We believe today’s opening of TGen’s DIPG tissue donation site is a major step in this amazing effort.”
TGen’s researchers are building a DIPG tumor atlas, a collection of tumor samples and accompanying analysis, that will help scientists understand the underlying genomic causes of this disease, help identify potential drugs to counter the disease, and eventually lead to novel clinical trials that would test new treatments en route to eventually find a cure.
TGen’s DIPG efforts were initiated with the help of Shane and Shawnee Doherty of Phoenix, who established the Hope Through Hollis Fund at TGen in memory of their much-loved 7-year-old son, Hollis, who succumbed to DIPG in 2017. The fund has now eclipsed $353,000 in donations. With today’s donation from the Cozzi family, the fund has raised $378,000.