Here’s What the Broach Foundation Has Been Funding Lately around Houston

Since the Broach Foundation for Brain Cancer Research was established in 2011, it has funded over $1.5 million in brain cancer research. It was created by husband and wife James and Jaime Broach after James was diagnosed with a grade IV astrocytoma brain cancer known as glioblastoma.

Since this funder doesn’t accept unsolicited grant proposals or publicly share its application procedures, we have only limited information about Broach’s grantmaking strategy and priorities within brain cancer research. So let’s take a closer look at the types of research it has supported lately and what the board members have been talking about.

One recent grantee is Dr. Frederick Lang, the director of clinical research in the Department of Neurosurgery at MD Anderson. Dr. Lang collaborated with the university cancer center’s neuro-oncology, pathology, blood and marrow transplant, and oncology departments to develop biological therapies. His research used new technologies to treat brain cancer with a “new class of anticancer therapies that include viruses, stem cells, exosomes, and microRNA.”

According to the Broach Foundation, this research has resulted in a number of groundbreaking discoveries, including the following:

  • First clinical trial showing that DNX-2401, a common cold virus designed as a “smart bomb” for brain tumors, is highly effective against the most aggressive brain cancers.
  • First laboratory studies demonstrating that DNX-2401 activates the immune system and may “vaccinate” patients against their brain tumors, thereby driving the new field of “viro-immunotherapy."
  • First clinical trial in which stem cells were successfully harvested from the bone marrow of patients with brain tumors and then shown in laboratory models to target brain tumors after injection into the blood stream, thereby establishing bone marrow stem cells as effective vehicles for intravenously delivering biological therapies to brain tumors.
  • First-time development of exosomes (natural nanoparticles) containing cancer killing microRNAs (small pieces of RNA that regulate cell growth) as therapeutic agents to fight cancer.
  • Production of a unique “bank” of brain cancer cell lines that are derived directly from patient tumors and express the same genetic mutations as the patient tumor; these have been used to test drugs that attack the genetic mutations found in each cell line, thereby validating the concept of “precision cancer medicine.”

Broach also funds a scholarship program for students, typically at the Ph.D. level of their research. Past grantees have been affiliated with the MD Brain Cancer Special Program for Research Excellence and researching the fields of RNA-binding protein and mitochondrial PGK1. These projects included animal models and new mechanisms that define how tumors consume nutrients.

The announcement of Dr. Lang’s $5 million grant came out in September 2014. The MD Anderson Cancer Center is a regular recipient of this funder’s support, which often stays local and close to the family’s heart.

“The more we spread the news about the cutting-edge research taking place at MD Anderson and how brain cancer research continues to be underfunded, the more excited people become about wanting to join the cause,” said Jamie Broach.

In 2015, the foundation was named a Young Texans against Cancer beneficiary for the Houston chapter for its financial contributions to brain cancer research. The Broach Foundation hosts an annual gala to raise money for research grantmaking. The 2015 gala took place on May 7 at the River Oaks Country Club in Houston and featured Jim Belushi. If you’re in the Houston area, check the foundation website for information about the 2016 gala as details become available.

General inquiries can be directed to the foundation at 832-606-2574 or info@thebroachfoundation.org. To learn more about this funder, check out IP’s full profile, The Broach Foundation for Brain Cancer Research: Grants for Brain Research & Treatment.