CONTACT: CLANCY CHAMPANOIS
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8798 John Pappajohn Pavilion
Iowa City IA 52242
Release: Sept. 18, 2002
Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center, Mayo Clinic receive NCI lymphoma SPORE
Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Iowa, in collaboration
with the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, has received one of only two Specialized
Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) grants from the National Cancer Institute
(NCI) for lymphoma research. This is the first time the NCI has given a lymphoma
SPORE grant, and it is also the first time the Holden Cancer Center has received
a SPORE grant.
Effective immediately, the Holden Cancer Center's SPORE grant (under the
direction of George Weiner, M.D., director of the Holden Comprehensive Cancer
Center) will provide more than $2 million per year to both Holden and Mayo
over a five-year period for five projects geared toward developing new approaches
to the therapy of lymphoma. Lymphoma is a cancer of the cells of the immune
system and is classified as Hodgkin's or non-Hodgkin's disease.
Only two lymphoma SPORE grants were given nationally, one to the Holden Cancer
Center and Mayo Clinic (Holden is the primary site and Mayo is the collaborating
site), and the other to Johns Hopkins University.
"The collaboration with Mayo Clinic on the SPORE grant was established
because we had complementary strengths," Weiner said. "Mayo has
particular expertise in the storing and evaluation of lymphoma tissue samples.
The University of Iowa has a track record of using research laboratory advances
to develop new treatments for cancers, including lymphoma.
"Both the Mayo Clinic and the University of Iowa have excellent teams
of clinical researchers with national reputations as lymphoma physicians.
This combination of shared and individual strengths between the two Comprehensive
Cancer Centers is a powerful one, as demonstrated by our receipt of the NCI
lymphoma SPORE grant."
"Our collaborative research will concentrate on advancing patient treatment
by developing new therapies and studying how they work," said Thomas
Witzig, M.D., a hematology/oncology physician-researcher at Mayo Clinic.
There are five projects in the lymphoma SPORE, all involving contributions
from both the Holden Cancer Center and the Mayo Clinic. Three of the projects
are based mainly at the UI and two at the Mayo Clinic:
* Project 1 will explore a new monoclonal antibody that was originally
produced, developed and evaluated at the UI and is now being evaluated in
cancer patients in five clinical trials in the United States and Europe.
* Project 2 will explore how to make antibodies more effective through
the use of the various agents that gear up the immune system.
* Project 3 will involve use of nuclear medicine imaging techniques,
including positron emission tomography (PET), to determine how antibodies
work. This project will be led by nuclear medicine physicians with expertise
in exploring how treatments can modify the function of immune system cells.
* Project 4 is designed to explore how to enhance the anti-lymphoma
effect of radioimmunoconjugates (monoclonal antibodies to which tiny molecules
of radioactivity have been added).
* Project 5 will explore how the common genetic makeup related to
immune function and regulation impacts on survival from lymphoma.
In addition to these research projects, the SPORE grant includes a developmental
research program, which allows for the development of new research ideas,
and a career development program to bring in the next generation of cancer
"Overall, the SPORE will allow us to coordinate and strengthen research
activities that are designed to apply advances in our understanding of cancer
and the immune system to the development of new approaches to the immunotherapy
of cancer," Weiner said. "It clearly demonstrates that the Holden
Comprehensive Cancer Center is one of the premiere translational cancer research
centers in the country."
The following UI faculty/staff are involved in SPORE leadership roles: George
Weiner, M.D. (overall SPORE director and principal investigator, director
Project 1, co-director Project 2); Brian Link, M.D. (SPORE co-principal investigator,
director Project 2, co-director Project 1, director of Clinical Trials Core);
Malik Juweid, M.D. (director Project 3); Charles Lynch, M.D., Ph.D. (co-director
Project 5); Zuhair Ballas, M.D. (director, Immunology Core); Justine Ritchie,
Ph.D. (co-director, Biostatistics Core); John Turner, M.D. (co-director, Tissue
Core); Jan Spielman (administrator); Mary Hendrix, Ph.D. (director, Developmental
Research); and Raymond Hohl, M.D., Ph.D. (director, Career Development).
The NCI established the SPORE program in 1992 to promote interdisciplinary
research and to speed the bidirectional exchange between basic and clinical
science to move basic research findings from the laboratory to applied settings
involving patients and populations. The goal of the program is to bring novel
ideas to the clinical care setting that have the potential to reduce cancer
incidence and mortality, improve survival, and improve patients quality
of life. Laboratory and clinical scientists work collaboratively to plan,
design and implement research programs that impact cancer prevention and control,
early detection, diagnosis, treatment and survival.
For more information, visit http://spores.nci.nih.gov/lymphoma/lymphoma.html.
University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the
University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI
Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research
programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at www.uihealthcare.com.