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Direct Oncology Foundation Seeks $100,000 to Sequence Genome of Cancer-Proof Mouse

Direct Oncology Foundation and Livly, both California non-profit corporations, seek funding to sequence the genome of cancer proof mice developed at Wake Forest University.

Riverside, CA, December 23, 2009 --( In an effort to accelerate the development of a cancer treatment based on innate cancer immunity, the Direct Oncology (DO) Foundation is launching an appeal to raise $100,000 to sequence cancer resistant mice at Wake Forest University. The project is being coordinated by Livly, a Silicon Valley based non-profit corporation dedicated to the development of sustainable cures for the major diseases plaguing humankind.

A colony of cancer resistant mice has been bred by scientists at Wake Forest University's Comprehensive Cancer Center since 2003, led by the Pathology Department's Zheng Cui and Mark Willingham. The immune systems of the mice successfully fight off different types of advanced cancer. Immune cells from these Spontaneous Regression / Complete Resistance (SR/CR) mice can be used to protect other mice from advanced cancer. Evidence suggests that there is a single place in the SR/CR mouse’s genome that confers the remarkable cancer resistance. Ironically, the gene for the cancer resistance has proven inaccessible to standard mouse genetic methods, and its identity and sequence have remained elusive. The progress of clinical efforts was hampered by lack of knowledge of the genetics underlying the cancer resistance.

Whole genome sequencing is a brute force method to identify any genetic differences between SR/CR and normal mice. In recent years, the price of whole genome sequences has plummeted from billions of dollars to only $60,000 per genome. This is still a large amount of money for the six to ten mice that will likely need to be sequenced. Genome sequencing costs, however, are slated to continue their parabolic descent, and a new tier of 3rd generation sequencing companies is expected to have methods available by Spring 2009 to sequence the necessary amount of mice for $100,000. The sequencing results will be published so that multiple research teams can contribute to the effort to find the genomic basis to cancer resistance in the mice.

Dr. Zheng Cui commented: “Past research has shown that whole genome sequencing will be necessary to determine the basis of the SR/CR mouse’s remarkable cancer resistance. I am excited by the possibilities opened up by cheap genome sequencing. We will take advantage of this opportunity as early as we can.”

About SR/CR mice

While conducting a series of experiments with mouse sarcoma 180 (S180) cells, which form highly aggressive cancers in all normal mice at Wake Forest University's Comprehensive Cancer Center, lead scientist Dr. Zheng Cui and his colleagues happened upon a single mouse that surprised them with its ability to resist several forms of cancer, despite repeated injections of the sarcoma cells. Breeding the mouse produced offspring that also exhibited cancer resistance, suggesting a likely genetic link. Further experiments showed that in it was a massive infiltration of white blood cells that destroyed cancer cells in these mice without damaging normal, healthy cells. Based on these results, Drs. Cui and Willingham and their colleagues suggest that a previously unknown immune response may be responsible for spontaneous regression. More recent studies demonstrated the ability to cure cancer in normal mice by transferring purified immune cells from the cancer-resistant mice. These newer studies show that specific types of innate immune cells, such as macrophages, can migrate to the site of cancer in normal mice and selectively kill all of the cancer cells without harming normal cells. Such studies suggest that this type of mechanism might one day be able to help design a new strategy for cancer therapy.

About Direct Oncology Foundation

Direct Oncology (DO) Foundation was founded in 2009 to raise funding for research and development of human therapies based on Dr. Zheng Cui’s remarkable cancer resistant SR/CR mice. The charity funds research into analysis of the genomics of Dr. Cui’s mice, as well as into the research into cancer therapies that use the immune system to attack cancer. 100% of funds raised are redirected into research.

About Livly

Livly is a non-profit corporation based in Mountain View, California, dedicated to accelerating the development of cures for the major diseases plaguing humankind. To this end Livly pursues two programs: First, Livly’s in-house research program studies new ways of stimulating the immune system to attack cancer. Second, through its “BioCurious” (Curious about Biology?) incubator program, Livly makes its research equipment available at low cost for “biohackers,” hobbyists, and entrepreneurs participating in the burgeoning DIY (do-it-yourself), “garage” biology movement, enabling them to work on pet projects and test their own favorite ideas for curing major diseases.


Damian Crowe
John Schloendorn PhD

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Direct Oncology Foundation
Damian Crowe

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