Destruction of tumor cells with novel drugs and toxins


A. Determination of the Role of Estrogen in Colon Cancer Development Using Estrogen Receptors in Knock Out Mice

Dr. Ruth S. MacDonald, CRC award recipient and Dr.Ju-Yu an Guo, Postdoctoral Fellow
There is increasing evidence that estrogens and phytoestrogens (from plants) affect colon cancer risk. Some evidence suggests that these compounds protect against colon cancer while other evidence suggests they promote colon cancer. This research project will use a mouse model of colon cancer to determine if estrogen or other estrogen-like compounds alter the tumors in the mice. The response to conjugated estrogens, similar to those used in hormone replacement therapy for women, will also be tested.
Bottom Line: Specific plant foods may have a significant role in prevention of cancer.

B. Characterization of the Gene that Controls Cancer Cells in Spreading from the Site of the Original Tumor

Dr. William Folk, CRC award recipient and Dr. Kimberly A. Lieber, Postdoctoral Fellow
Skin cancer often results from overexposure to ultraviolet light causing DNA damage in skin cells. 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: The identification of these protective mechanisms will allow development of new diagnostic protocols, as well as novel therapeutic drugs.

C. Deciphering Signals of Breast Cancer

Dr. Tim H.-M. Huang, CRC award recipient and Dr. Huidong Shi, Postdoctoral Fellow
Cancer is a complex disease resulting from multiple genetic mutations. There is a lesser-known type of mutation that has been observed in breast cancer. Sophisticated robotic technology had been adapted to look at DNA to find this specific type of mutation with a high degree of accuracy and sensitivity. This type of technology will lead to more accurate diagnosis of cancer from biopsy and other tissue sources as an alternative to traditional pathology.
Bottom Line: This study will pave the way for molecular diagnosis and classification of tumors, and thus better diagnosis and treatment.

D. Does Exposure to Environmental Estrogens Increase Risk for Prostate Carcinogenesis?

Dr. Frederick S. vom Saal, CRC award recipient and Dr. Catherine Richter, Postdoctoral Fellow
Exposure during fetal life to estrogen related compounds has been shown to result in prostate cancer in animal studies and has been related to vaginal cancer in women. For the purposes of this study, mouse fetuses will be exposed to estrogen like chemicals that leach out of plastic bottles and food containers and the effects of this exposure will be monitored in the mice. This study will be the first to examine the possibility that fetal exposure to estrogenic chemicals results in prostate cancer development.
Bottom Line: This study will identify whether certain chemicals alter estrogen in fetal life and lead to prostrate cancer in adults.

E. Novel Ways to Inhibit the Growth of Cancer Cells

Dr. Gary Weisman, CRC award recipient and Dr. Patricia Theiss, Postdoctoral Fellow
A major emphasis in the development of new cancer treatments is to devise new ways to inhibit the growth of cancer cells. This project will study a family of proteins known as nucleotide receptors. Some members of this family work to promote the death of cancer cells. One member of this family of proteins accelerates the growth of blood vessels that aid in tumor expansion by providing blood supply to the growing tumor. Thus, this family of proteins offers promising new targets for cancer therapy.
Bottom Line: This strategy of blocking blood vessel growth increases the probability of destroying tumor development.

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