The Wisconsin Partnership Program’s Partnership Education and Research Committee awarded the following Collaborative Health Sciences Program grants in 2016:

Metabolic Priming Triple-Negative Breast Cancer to Proapoptotic Therapy

Principal investigator: Vincent Cryns, MD, Medicine (Endocrinology)
Co-investigator: Ruth O-Regan, MD, Medicine (Hematology/Oncology)
Award: $500,000 over three years

Physicians and community partners including breast cancer survivors and advocates will explore metabolic priming, a novel model for cancer therapy that uses diet to make tumor cells more vulnerable to a cancer drug that activates cell death. The team will explore whether short-term dietary restriction of the essential amino acid methionine can enhance clinical response to this drug in patients with metastatic triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), a largely incurable disease with few effective treatments.

The project, led by Vincent Cryns, MD professor of medicine at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, brings together a multidisciplinary team with broad expertise in cancer biology, clinical trials, nutrition, circulating tumor cells and biostatistics. The novel model has the potential to dramatically improve clinical outcomes in metastatic TNBC by specifically targeting chemotherapy-resistant cancer stem cells that contribute to treatment resistance.

Quantitative Models to Define Cancer Cell Heterogeneity and Predict Patient Drug Responses

Principal investigator: Shigeki Miyamoto, PhD, Oncology
Co-investigators: Natalie S. Callander, MD, Medicine (Hematology/Oncology) and Charles Page, PhD, Biostatistics and Medical Informatics
Award: $500,000 over three years

A new project led by Shigeki Miyamoto, PhD, professor of oncology at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, and a team of basic and clinical scientists addresses one of the fundamental challenges facing clinical management of human cancers: the inability to predict clinical responses of a given patient to different therapy options.

This project aims to develop a completely new approach to predicting individual patient responses to therapies for multiple myeloma, a currently incurable cancer. The primary goal of the project is to begin to construct a new approach to enable large scale quantitative description of the phenotypic characteristics of cancer cells from individual patients and then develop mathematical models that best predict therapy responses of individual patients to different drug options.

The long-term objective of the project is to further develop and optimize the new approach to enable clinical trials, improve clinical care of patients with multiple myeloma and apply the technology to the management of other cancer types.

Rapid Assessment of and Prophylaxis for Influenza in Dwellers of Long-Term Care Facilities (RAPID-LTCF)

Principal investigator: Jonathan L. Temte, MD, PhD, Family Medicine and Community Health
Co-investigators: Irene Hamrick, MD, Family Medicine and Community Health and Peter Shult, PhD, Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene
Award: $500,000 over three years

Influenza is a devastating infection that disproportionately affects residents of long-term care facilities (LTCFs), resulting in high attack rates, as well as high hospitalizations and mortality. A multidisciplinary team of researchers led by Jonathan Temte, PhD, professor of family medicine and community health at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, includes clinical scientists, a diagnostic laboratory scientist, a public health practitioner and a health economist, and aims to develop an innovative infection control approach for this highly vulnerable population.

The project will test the effectiveness of very simple, inexpensive and adaptable technology for extremely early detection of influenza in LTCFs and the immediate transmission of test results to public health officials. The randomized, controlled clinical trial will assess the effect of on-site, rapid influenza detection at LTCFs on influenza-related hospitalizations, deaths and health care-associated costs over three influenza seasons.

Ultimately the project would provide a translatable model for very early and proactive detection of, and response to, influenza in LTCFs, allowing for appropriate medical and public health interventions.