CONTACT: BECKY SOGLIN
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-6660; fax (319) 384-4638
Release: Dec. 3, 2001
UI researchers receive cancer grants for collaborative studies
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa researchers working on four different
cancer-related studies have received year 2001 Translational/Collaborative
Research Grants made through the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the
These awards help faculty develop translational projects, which are investigations
that involve transferring basic research findings into practical applications.
The following investigators received one-year, $20,000 awards, effective Dec.
1, for their studies:
Frederick Domann, Ph.D., UI associate professor of radiation oncology, is
principal investigator for "Pre-clinical Studies of DNA Methyltransferase
Inhibitors for Cancer Therapy." Methylation is the addition of single
carbon atoms to specific DNA sites. Alterations in normal DNA methylation
patterns are an early and important event in cancer progression.
Domann said the long-term goal of his team's project is to address whether
drug-based inhibitors of the enzymes that control the DNA methylation process
can decrease the rate of tumor progression and thus prolong the period of
disease-free survival. He said, "Our current proposal addresses whether
aberrant DNA methylation occurs within specific genes in human cancers, especially
pheochromocytoma and neuroblastoma, and whether the extent of methylation
and the cancer's malignant properties can be affected by inhibitors of DNA
methylation." M. Sue ODorisio, M.D., Ph.D., UI Foundation Professor
of Pediatrics, is co-investigator on the project.
Wendy Maury, Ph.D., UI assistant professor of microbiology, and C. Michael
Knudson, M.D., Ph.D., UI assistant professor of pathology, co-principal investigators,
shared an award for "Retrovirus-induced Apoptosis." Infection with
retroviruses such as HIV and HTLV can cause cancer in humans. This project
addresses how retroviruses induce cell death (also called apoptosis) following
infection. The study also will examine the role of p53, a gene that normally
functions as a tumor suppressor but is mutated in nearly 50 percent of human
Jose Morcuende, M.D., Ph.D., UI assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery,
is leading a study on "Comprehensive Analysis of Gene Expression using
SAGE from Paraffin-Block isolated mRNA." This project will evaluate the
feasibility of extracting RNA that has been stored in paraffin blocks and
will attempt to use this RNA for comprehensive gene expression profiling.
Analyzing this type of stored material for gene expression could provide information
that can be compared to the already known clinical course of patients, with
the potential for more accurate cancer diagnoses and prognoses, Morcuende
UI collaborators on this study include Bento Soares, Ph.D., professor of
pediatrics, physiology and biophysics, and biochemistry; Barry DeYoung, M.D.,
associate professor of pathology and orthopaedic surgery; Sergey Malchenko,
M.D., Ph.D., assistant research scientist in pediatrics; and Thomas Casavant,
Ph.D., professor of electrical-computational bioengineering.
Douglas Spitz, Ph.D., UI associate professor of radiation oncology, is principal
investigator for "Metabolic Oxidative Stress and Cancer Therapy."
This collaborative study aims to provide a biochemical rationale for developing
new cancer therapies by combining drugs and dietary changes already approved
for use in humans. The project will determine if therapies designed to inhibit
glucose metabolism and hydroperoxide detoxification, combined with manipulations
that increase mitochondrial metabolism, will preferentially kill tumor cells
(without harming normal cells) via metabolic oxidative stress. Initially,
the project will test these concepts in cell culture, and successful drug
combinations will then be tested in clinical trials.
In addition to Spitz's basic science work, collaboration on this study includes
the basic science work of Larry Oberley, Ph.D., UI professor of radiation
oncology and director of the Free Radical and Radiation Biology Program, and
the clinical work of Raymond Hohl, M.D., Ph.D., UI associate professor of
internal medicine and director of the Division of Hematology, Oncology and
Blood and Marrow Transplantation.
The Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center is Iowa's only National Cancer Institute
(NCI)-designated comprehensive cancer center. NCI-designated comprehensive
cancer centers are recognized as the leaders in developing new approaches
to cancer prevention and cancer care, conducting leading edge research and
educating the public about cancer. Visit the cancer center online at http://www.uihealthcare.com/depts/cancercenter.
University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between
the UI College of Medicine and the UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient
care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit
UI Health Care online at http://www.uihealthcare.com/.