2012 Research Awardees
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide, leading to 1.3 million deaths per year. Dr. Pine and her team will study whether a non-invasive blood test will predict those who are at increased risk of developing lung cancer. Their goal is to ultimately identify those at high risk, either before their cancer starts or when their cancer is in the earliest stages, when treatment is more likely to be successful.
Inflammation is a normal biologic process that is necessary for healing wounds and combating infection. Unlike the normal inflammatory response, chronic inflammation appears to play a role in a number of chronic diseases, including cancer. Dr. Steck will examine the association between diet and inflammation with the use of a new dietary inflammation index in research on breast and colorectal cancers. The project may help to identify novel intervention strategies for cancer prevention.
Ligi Paul, PhD, Tufts University
Named Award: Holden Family Research Award in Breast Cancer
A common variation in the gene for the protein dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) increases the risk for breast cancer in multivitamin users. Currently it is not known how the genetic variation in DHFR influences cancer risk in those who use folic acid containing supplements. Dr. Paul will study how genetic variations affect the body’s use of folic acid in ways that may increase cancer risk. The information generated by this project is necessary to adopt measures to reduce the cancer risk associated with this variation.
Stomach or gastric cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide. Dr. Sousa is looking at the potential for microRNAs to distinguish healthy individuals from individuals with pre-cancerous lesions and early-stage gastric cancer. This study could potentially lead to the development of minimally invasive tests that would improve the early detection of gastric cancer.
Ovarian cancer ranks fifth in causes of cancer-related deaths in women and second among all gynecologic cancer-related deaths. There is an urgent need for innovative tools to identify asymptomatic women with early-stage ovarian cancer because most cases are diagnosed at advanced stages due to the lack of clinical symptoms. Dr. Kast will investigate a possible biomarker for early detection of ovarian cancer.
Joel Mason, MD, Tufts University
Named Award: Marvin M. Davis Research Award in Colorectal Cancer
Overweight and obesity have been convincingly implicated as factors that increase the risk of colorectal cancer. Dr. Mason will explore the means by which obesity promotes cancer risk in order to identify potential targets for cancer prevention. By defining the cellular pathways by which obesity affects the growth of colorectal cancer, we can arrive at strategies that will interrupt these pathways. The experiments will utilize several varieties of genetically-engineered mice to delineate these pathways and thus identify several potential targets for cancer prevention.
Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death in the world for both men and women. Non-small cell lung cancer accounts for about 90% of lung cancer cases, with nearly 75% of them diagnosed with advanced, inoperable, or metastatic disease. Prevention studies have largely been ineffective. However, a recent chemoprevention trial of iloprost showed reduced degree of dysplasia in former smokers with six months of iloprost treatment. Frizzled 9 (Fzd9) is known to mediate the effects of iloprost and may be a marker that predicts response to iloprost chemoprevention. Dr. Tennis will study the possibility of Frizzled 9 as such a marker.
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