Dr. Ramon Franco of Mass. Eye and Ear to Lead Multi-National Research Study on Pre-Malignant Lesions in Throat Patients

June 19, 2012

BOSTON (June 19, 2012) – Massachusetts Senate President Therese Murray and Dr. Ramon Franco, Director of Laryngology at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary (pictured), along with Massachusetts Life Sciences Center President and CEO Dr. Susan Windham-Bannister, have announced a multi-national research study to develop non-invasive procedures to detect pre-malignant lesions. Finland, Northern Ireland and Catalonia have also made commitments to be part of the study.DSCN9953 20web

The collaboration for this study, led by Franco, was fostered during several different meetings of NIMAC (Northern Ireland Massachusetts Connection) – an informal organization formed in 2009 which includes Massachusetts, Northern Ireland, Finland and the Catalonia region of Spain, which was formed to help create connections on the research, academic and business level to promote mutually beneficial economic opportunities. NIMAC members also include the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, Invest Northern Ireland, Tekes (Finland), VTT (Finland), BioCat (Catalonia) and several universities and research institutions in reach member region.

The study, which received a $300,000 grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, will look at samples from all of the participating nations and will also utilize the most effective, cutting edge applications to analyze the data collected. The result will be to determine at-risk patients without unnecessary surgery.

“The NIMAC collaboration is invaluable in today’s world because science is no longer a solo endeavor. Our research aims to use the DNA, RNA and protein changes seen in a patient’s biopsy sample to personalize the decisions in their healthcare. Specifically, in laryngeal premalignant tumors, 90 percent are benign. By using these analyses, we will be able to identify and target the 10 percent who are at-risk for progressing to cancer, decreasing healthcare costs and protecting patients from unnecessary surgical procedures.NIMAC gives us the ability to interface with our colleagues in Northern Ireland, Finland and Catalonia to perform the highest level of research possible. In the future, we hope to leverage the strength of this association when we seek federal grant money in the U.S. and Europe to support this and many other projects. The knowledge gained through this research has no borders. Patients in all fields of medicine, as well as all countries, will be able to benefit," said Dr. Franco.

“These are the types of opportunities that NIMAC was designed to help facilitate,” Senate President Therese Murray said. “The work by Dr. Franco and his international partners will improve patient care and wellness by preventing unnecessary surgery and making more cost-effective diagnosis of premalignant lesions.”

About Massachusetts Eye and Ear

Mass. Eye and Ear clinicians and scientists are driven by a mission to find cures for blindness, deafness and diseases of the head and neck. After uniting with Schepens Eye Research Institute in 2011, Mass. Eye and Ear in Boston became the world's largest vision and hearing research center, offering hope and healing to patients everywhere through discovery and innovation. Mass. Eye and Ear is a Harvard Medical School teaching hospital and trains future medical leaders in ophthalmology and otolaryngology, through residency as well as clinical and research fellowships. Internationally acclaimed since its founding in 1824, Mass. Eye and Ear employs full-time, board-certified physicians who offer high-quality and affordable specialty care that ranges from the routine to the very complex. U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Hospitals Survey” has consistently ranked the Mass. Eye and Ear Departments of Otolaryngology and Ophthalmology as top five in the nation. For more information about life-changing care and research, or to learn how you can help, please visit MassEyeAndEar.org.