Basic understanding of what triggers chromosome damage and the repair of that damage

A. Study of Targets for Prevention of Cell Division During Cancer

Dr. Heide Schatten, CRC award recipient, Dr. Allison Wiedermeier, Postdoctoral Fellow, Dr. Geoffery Gobert, Postdoctoral Fellow, and Dr. Quing-Yuan Sun, Postdoctoral Fellow
Cancer is a result of unregulated cell growth. One drug that inhibits this growth is Taxol. There are some unpleasant side effects associated with the use of Taxol, so the goal of this project is to understand the mechanism of cell division more thoroughly in order to develop alternatives to drugs like Taxol. A mouse model for prostate cancer has been developed to help with this problem and the findings may be applicable to other types of cancer as well.
Bottom Line: This should lead to new and more effective drugs.

B. Cancer: A Balance Between DNA Damage and Repair

Professor Stephen Alexander, CRC award recipient and Dr. Christopher Foote, Postdoctoral Fellow
Cancers result from DNA damage. Fortunately, cells of all organisms have the means to repair damaged DNA. However, little is known about how cells sense this damaged DNA in order to start repairs. The identification of these protective mechanisms will allow many possibilities for developing new diagnostic tools and treatments for this type of cancer.
Bottom Line: By knowing how DNA damage is repaired, superior drugs can be developed.

C. Genes for Synthesis of Anti-Oxidant Enzymes that Repair Cancer Cells

Professor Abraham Eisenstark, Associate Professor Miriam Golomb, Associate Professor Michael Calcutt, and Dr. Kelly Edwards, Postdoctoral Fellow
Oxidants are like molecular bullets that can damage DNA and begin the process of tumor formation. Normal cells are capable of producing anti-oxidants that can both destroy oxidants and repair damaged DNA. Certain foods that contain anti-oxidants such as vitamins C and E and selenium are important for countering the damaging effects of oxidants. This research project focuses on the intricate mechanisms that control this process within the cell. Vitamin preparations emphasize the anti-oxidant vitamins and sunscreens now contain anti-oxidant compounds.
Bottom Line: Basic knowledge of the damaging effects of oxidants and the role of anti-oxidants should lead to the reduction of cancer incidents.

D. Finding Key Proteins that Regulate Tumor Growth and Tumor Death

Dr. Mark Hannink, CRC award recipient and Dr. Donna Zhang, Postdoctoral Fellow
Within cells, a complex system governs the balance between life and death through a series of proteins that interact in very specific ways. A greater understanding of the function of key proteins will lead to a better understanding of what happens to initiate the unregulated cell division that is associated with most cancer.
Bottom Line: This research will lead to a better understanding of how regulation of specific proteins can interfere with the development of cancer cells.

E. Role of Estrogens in Breast Cancer Control

Professor Dennis Lubahn, CRC award recipient, Dr. Brian Morin, Postdoctoral Fellow, and Dr. Ed Curran, Postdoctoral Fellow
Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of death. It has been known for some time that certain types of breast cancer require estrogens to grow. Some treatments have been based on this observation and use an estrogen blocker. This may result in tumors that become estrogen resistant. Identification of all the receptors involved in the estrogen response is fundamental to developing a means to overcome this obstacle to treatment. A mouse model of this interaction has given valuable insights to the problem of estrogen resistant tumors.
Bottom Line: This targeted therapy would be effective in the fight to control breast cancer and other estrogen responsive tumors.

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