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Last Updated: 07/21/14

Strategic Partnering to Evaluate Cancer Signatures (SPECS)

The Strategic Partnering to Evaluate Cancer Signatures (SPECS) program consists of a group of grants that support multi-institutional, multidisciplinary research teams. The SPECS program leverages NCI’s investment in cancer clinical trials, cancer centers, NCI intramural programs, and the Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) program. The projects include collaborations with biotechnology companies, community hospitals, national laboratories, and academic institutions in the United States, Canada, and Europe.

The goals of the SPECS program are:

  • To translate molecular signatures/profiles derived from comprehensive molecular analysis of tumors to improved patient management and ultimately improved patient outcomes.
  • To establish strategic partnerships that bring together the interdisciplinary teams needed to evaluate the potential clinical utility of molecular signatures.
  • To evaluate molecular signatures previously correlated with important clinical parameters such as recurrence, survival or response to therapy.
  • To confirm and refine the molecular signatures.
  • To develop robust, reproducible assays for the signatures that can be incorporated into clinical validation trials.

The SPECS I program was initiated in 2004, where it supported six research teams studying six different types of cancers. More information can be found here.

The current SPECSII program was initiated in 2010 and supports research teams studying five different types of cancers: Lung, colon, and prostate cancers; acute leukemia; and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. In this program, the clinical need determines which molecular profile will be evaluated. The molecular profiles include diagnostic profiles that characterize specific cancers; prognostic profiles that indicate the likelihood of patient survival, regardless of treatment; and predictive profiles that indicate an individual patient’s response to a specific therapy.