American Cancer Society Funds UW Carbone Cancer Center Research
Madison, Wisconsin - UW Carbone Cancer Center scientists studying a blood cancer called multiple myeloma and a type of breast cancer received prestigious Research Scholar awards from the American Cancer Society.
Dr. Fotis Asimakopoulos received a grant of $792,000 over four years to study the role of macrophages in helping multiple myeloma cells escape chemotherapy.
Multiple myeloma is a deadly form of blood cancer that currently can be controlled, but not cured. A common treatment uses a large dose of chemotherapy to kill tumor and normal cells, followed by a stem-cell transplant of the patient’s own saved stem cells to regrow healthy blood. These transplants typically work for a time, but the myeloma returns.
Dr. Asimakopoulos, an assistant professor of medicine in the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, speculates that macrophages within the bone marrow help a few cancer cells escape chemotherapy. The goal of his research is to retrain these blood cells to turn against the cancer cells.
Dr. Beth Weaver, assistant professor of cell and regenerative biology, also received a grant of $792,000 over four years to study a gene called Mad1 and its role in breast cancer. Her research team has found that individual tumor cells express higher amounts of Mad1 protein compared to normal cells in about 60 percent of breast cancers, and that women with this gene have significantly worse survival rates. Her research aims to understand the role of Mad1 in tumor growth and whether it could be a useful biomarker to predict which breast cancers will respond to a specific treatment.
In addition to the UW Carbone researchers, a third UW School of Medicine and Public Health researcher received a grant from ACS. Dr. Naghma Khan, a research scientist in the Department of Dermatology, received a grant of $792,000 over four years to study the management of colorectal cancers with PIK3CA mutations. Patients with advanced forms of the disease have few treatment options and their prognosis is often very poor.
This study looks at dietary flavonoid fisetin – found in fruits and vegetables such as apples, persimmons, grapes, kiwis, strawberries, onions and cucumbers – as an adjuvant for the inhibition of PI3K-mutant colorectal cancer. Dr. Khan’s earlier studies have shown that fisetin inhibits cancer cells with this mutation.
In presenting the awards, an ACS official noted that UW was the only research institution in the Midwest to receive one of the prestigious awards, much less three of them.
Date Published: 06/18/2015