Baltimore, MD (January 15, 2013)

Neurofibromatosis Therapeutic Acceleration Program (NTAP) today announced the launch of an idea challenge for the development of biomarkers for neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1)-associated plexiform neurofibromas (pNF).

Individuals with pNF can have multiple tumors that vary greatly in terms of how they progress. PNFs can grow to substantial volume over time, which often causes significant neurological symptoms and disfigurement. Some pNFs undergo malignant conversion, transitioning to sarcomas that are often fatal, while others do not change significantly during a patient’s lifetime. Currently, there are no means to distinguish which tumors will progress and which will remain stable.

The NTAP biomarker challenge solicits proposals for novel approaches to identify biomarkers (molecular, imaging, or other measurable traits that reflect the presence and severity of disease) that will predict which pNFs will undergo significant growth and transformation in individuals with NF1.

“In order to develop preventive therapies before the pNFs become symptomatic, tools are needed to distinguish between tumors that will remain stable and those that will grow or become malignant,” said Bruce Korf, NTAP Scientific Advisor. “Our biomarker challenge was created to address this need.”

Potential applications will be submitted to and curated by InnoCentive, a global leader in crowdsourcing innovation problems to the world’s smartest people who compete to provide ideas and solutions to important business, social, policy, scientific, and technical challenges. Their global network includes over 300,000 diverse and creative thinkers and problem solvers from nearly 200 countries. Coupled with their proven challenge methodology and cloud-based innovation management platform, InnoCentive is a strong partner for NTAP to increase the expand the community of people working to accelerate treatments for plexiform neurofibromas.