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Release: Jan. 17, 2001

UI researchers receive grants to study cancer tumors

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa Health Care researchers have received two grants, one from the National Cancer Institute and one from the American Cancer Society, to investigate cancer tumors.

M. Sue O'Dorisio, M.D., Ph.D., UI Foundation Professor of Pediatrics and director of the UI Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, and Thomas M. O'Dorisio, M.D., UI professor of internal medicine, have received a four-year, $2 million National Cancer Institute grant to study "Radioreceptor Guided Surgery Therapy of Neural Crest Tumors." Thomas O'Dorisio also is a researcher at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Iowa City. Other UI investigators who will also be part of the research team include Anthony Sandler, M.D., and James Howe, M.D., both UI assistant professors of surgery, and Malik Juweid, M.D., and David Bushnell, M.D., both UI associate professors of radiology.

The investigation will focus on how somatostatin receptors can be used as diagnostic and therapeutic targets in detecting and removing tumors during surgeries. The researchers will initially study the use of this technique in neuroblastoma and carcinoid tumors. If the method proves successful, it may also be used in detecting and treating certain kinds of lung cancer, certain breast cancers and melanoma.

Sue O'Dorisio, who recently opened a UI Health Care clinic for children with nervous system disorders, also received a one-year, $75,000 grant from the American Cancer Society to study "Genetic and Epigenetic Changes in Medulloblastoma."

Medulloblastoma is a type of brain cancer that accounts for nearly 25 percent of all childhood brain cancers, according to the American Cancer Society. These fast-growing tumors originate in the cerebellum and can spread to other parts of the body.

The study goal is to understand the role of methylation in development of these brain tumors which are unique to children. Previous genetic research has shown that mutations and deletions of tumor suppressor genes contribute to malignancy. However, DNA methylation -- the addition of single carbon atoms to genetic material -- can inactivate tumor gene expression.

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