CONTACT: RACHEL BALLWEG
8788 John Pappajohn Pavilion
Iowa City IA 52242
Release: Nov. 21, 2000
UI cancer researchers are awarded grants
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The Holden Cancer Center at the University of Iowa recently
awarded two translational research grants. The Holden Cancer Center translational
research grant program is designed to support the application of basic research
laboratory discoveries to the development of new approaches to the prevention,
diagnosis, and treatment of cancer.
The 2000 translational research grant recipients include principal investigator
Daniel J. Berg, M.D., assistant professor of internal medicine at the UI College
of Medicine. Berg and co-investigators Larry Oberley, Ph.D., professor of
radiology and Garry Buettner, Ph.D., professor of radiology, were awarded
$20,000 for their project "The Role of Oxidative Stress in the Development
of Colitis-Associated Cancer." Berg said the project will examine the
correlation between reactive oxygen molecules and the development of colon
"Reactive oxygen molecules are produced whenever there is inflammation,"
Berg said. "With overproduction of these molecules, tissue damage can
When this inflammation and tissue damage occur abnormally over a long period
of time in the intestines, it is called inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Patients with IBD have a much higher risk of developing colon cancer.
"We are studying a mouse model of IBD. We plan to use this model to
determine if there is a correlation between production of reactive oxygen
molecules and the development of colon cancer," Berg said. "If so,
blocking the production of these reactive oxygen molecules may prevent the
development of cancer. Our long-term goal is to develop methods of preventing
colon cancer in patients who have inflammatory bowel disease."
Another recipient of the 2000 translational research grant from the Holden
Cancer Center is principal investigator Aloysius J. Klingelhutz, Ph.D., assistant
professor of microbiology at the UI College of Medicine. Klingelhutz and co-investigator
Kevin Ault, M.D., assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology, were awarded
$18,153 for work on their project "Telomerase Activity as a Diagnostic
Marker for Triage of Abnormal Pap Smears."
Klingelhutz and Ault plan to use their research to test the level of telomerase,
an enzyme that elongates the DNA at the ends of chromosomes, in cervical cells
of women having pap smears.
"We know from basic research that telomerase is essential for the development
of most cancers," Klingelhutz said. "And we also know from basic
research that infection by human papilloma virus (HPV), a virus associated
with cervical cancer, plays a role in telomerase activation. Our goal is to
utilize this knowledge to determine whether levels of telomerase activity
of cells from pap smears are associated with cancer stage and aggressiveness."
"Winning this grant allows us to develop a method for measuring telomerase
in pap smears," Ault said. "Hopefully this test will help gynecologists
in making decisions concerning treatment of women with precancerous and cancerous
changes of the cervix."
If research findings on the project are successful, Klingelhutz said he
will submit an application to the National Cancer Institute for a larger,
more extensive project incorporating others in the Holden Cancer Center to
determine whether testing for telomerase activity in pap smears is a predictor
for cervical cancer.
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the UI College of Medicine and the UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient
care, medical education and research programs and services they provide.