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University of Iowa News Release


March 4, 2008

UI researchers receive grant to develop enhanced prostate cancer vaccine

University of Iowa College of Pharmacy researcher Aliasger Salem, Ph.D., and UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine researcher David Lubaroff, Ph.D., have received a two-year, $337,500 exploratory grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop an enhanced vaccine to treat and prevent prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is the most common nonskin cancer in America, affecting one in six men. As a leading cause of cancer death, prostate cancer is second only to lung cancer. In 2005, over 232,000 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer, and over 30,000 men died from the disease. The Prostate Cancer Foundation estimates that there are over two million American men currently living with prostate cancer.

"One approach to treating and preventing prostate cancer is to harness the immune response against prostate cancer-specific markers or antigens," said Salem, an assistant professor in the College of Pharmacy's Division of Pharmaceutics. "Gene-delivery techniques have the potential to stimulate potent anti-tumor immunity. To date, studies have either focused on nonviral delivery systems such as plasmid DNA-polycation nanoparticles or viral approaches such as the use of adenoviruses encoding prostate specific antigen (PSA)."

With the new funding, Salem and Lubaroff, a professor of urology and microbiology in the UI Carver College of Medicine, will test the "paradigm-shifting" idea that combining viral and nonviral delivery of prostate cancer-specific antigens will generate the strongest anti-tumor immune responses to date.

"The proposed pre-clinical research is very exciting because it has strong potential to lead to a new potent therapeutic modality for treatment and prevention of prostate cancer," Salem said.

Salem and Lubaroff both are members of Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Iowa.

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 center online at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5139 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

MEDIA CONTACT: David Pedersen, 319-335-8032,