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HOSPITALS Care to be tailored to genetics



Published: Thu, February 24, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The effort includes the Cleveland Clinic, VA hospital and MetroHealth Medical Center.

CLEVELAND (AP) -- The region's top hospitals are joining forces to build a new research facility that would aim to tailor patients' medical care based on their genetic and molecular makeup.

So-called personalized medicine is a growing trend in the health care industry. The field uses DNA to more accurately and quickly study a person's medical condition instead of using traditional diagnostic tools such as blood tests or cultures.

Case Western Reserve University leads the effort that also includes the Cleveland Clinic, the Veterans Affairs hospital and the public MetroHealth Medical Center.

"The idea is to take advantage of the strengths here in clinical care and biomedical research and to position us for national leadership in inventing a new kind of medical care," said Dr. Ralph Horwitz, dean of Case's medical school.

Horwitz said a goal is to tailor care based on a patient's makeup instead of therapies broadly based on the average outcome of a treatment.

The new center will be known as West Quad and the first phase is scheduled to open in 2008. It would be located on the campus of Case Western in Cleveland and would create 6,000 jobs.

Those with a hand in the project say they hope the center will establish Northeast Ohio as a leader in a new way of treating patients.

Private participation

There are a handful of small, private companies across the nation that already are using the method for things such as determining if HIV patients are resistant to certain kinds of medications. Other researchers have used the method to help develop new cancer drugs that take into account each patient's reaction to the disease.

But there appears to be few, if any, major hospitals widely using the approach to treat patients, or develop personalized preventative care.

Cleveland can "lead in this new kind of individualized, personalized medicine," Horwitz said. "There are places around the country that are talking about individualized, personalized medicine -- no one's doing it."

Forbes magazine estimates that personalized medicine is growing 20 percent a year in the nation's $30 billion clinical diagnostics business.

The Cleveland institutions would share resources such as clinical and biological databases. The research center also would have access to a large and diverse patient population.

Horwitz said those qualities will make the area attractive to companies that need such information to develop targeted drugs or therapeutic products.

Additional monies

The city will press for state and federal money and wants to establish new institutional-research zoning for the site. The cost of the first phase of the project is expected to exceed $20 million.

"This will be a high-density, education-research facility that's churning 24 hours a day," said Chris Ronayne, Mayor Jane Campbell's chief of staff. "Cleveland has talked for a while about a biomedical research hub, and with West Quad, we potentially have it."

The details of the lease and overall cost of the project won't be clear until after the university chooses a developer, Horwitz said. The university expects to make its selection by fall.

The first phase of the campus, about 500,000 square feet, would include two buildings, a 200,000-square-foot structure for Case's Institute of Patient and Population Health Sciences and a 300,000-square-foot building that the university would share with other biotech tenants. Eventually, the university expects to occupy at least 500,000 square feet of space when the research campus is fully developed.

The West Quad also will host the city's health department and a medical simulation center aimed at reducing medical errors.




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