Year One – Research Project Update
Together with the SDHB Pheo-Para Coalition and the Paradifference Foundation, the Pheo Para Alliance has funded a first-of-its-kind research effort at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard to lay the foundation for the creation of a pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma tumor dependency map. Launched in 2019, this three-year project aims to establish a fresh tissue acquisition pipeline for any patient, whether nationwide or across borders, to donate living tissue for the derivation of patient models, and develop a leading translational research platform focused on systematically identifying drug repurposing hypotheses and genetic dependencies of pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma tumors.
During the first year of this initiative, efforts focused on establishing and fine-tuning pipelines for fresh tissue acquisition from patients, submitting these tumor tissues for sequencing to confirm expected genomic characteristics, and devising an initiation strategy that might increase the likelihood of successful long-term cultures.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which forced the Broad Institute to temporarily close the majority of its lab operations (with the exception of work on Covid-19), tissue acquisition was paused from March through June. Lab operations resumed in early July and, since, the team has collected 4 fresh tissue samples, yielding a total of 13 Pheo/Para tumor samples from 13 different institutions from across the United States. Twelve of these samples were acquired through the online consent webportal Pattern.org. Excitingly, this now enables the launch of the next phase of the project’s laboratory work, as several samples were required in order to have a robust cohort for its pilot plans.