Interdisciplinary Team Awarded $2.2 Million to Research Safer, Improved Chemotherapy
A $2.2 million grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has been awarded to an interdisciplinary research team of Sylvester members to create a blueprint to deliver safer, more-effective chemotherapy with fewer long-term negative health effects. Roland Jurecic, Ph.D., an associate professor of microbiology and immunology, and cell biology, is the principal investigator. The ﬁrst phase of the study will focus on reducing inﬂammation during and after chemotherapy, evaluating whether it safely minimizes or prevents long-lasting adverse effects, and identifying targets for therapeutic intervention. In the next phase, the team will test combined treatment with chemotherapy and various FDA-approved and novel non-steroidal anti-inﬂammatory drugs (NSAIDs). They will also test combined treatment via novel intra-tumoral-delivered chemotherapy drugs with and without NSAIDs. They will then study pediatric cancer survivors in collaboration with the pediatric oncologists at Sylvester. By translating their ﬁndings into clinical trials, they will be able to test the safety and efﬁcacy of new cancer treatment approaches.
$1.8 Million Bankhead-coley Grant Supports Breast Cancer Research at Sylvester
Sylvester researchers led by Michael H. Antoni, Ph.D., a professor of psychology, were awarded a $1.8 million Bankhead-Coley grant to test the effects of a novel video-conferenced, group-based cognitive behavioral stress management (CBSM) intervention on improving immunologic health and quality of life in older women undergoing breast cancer treatment. The CBSM program features 10 weekly sessions, conducted using tablets from home, and is focused on relaxation and cognitive behavioral coping skills, and also includes access to educational and demonstration videos. Since CBSM has been shown to reduce stress and inﬂ ammatory signaling in breast cancer, the trial tests whether this novel delivery venue of CBSM improves immune responses to the ﬂ u vaccine via reductions in stress and inﬂ ammation.
$1.5 Million Nih/nigms Award to Study Ph Regulation of Cell Surface Receptors
Daniel Isom, Ph.D., an assistant professor of molecular and cellular pharmacology, received a $1.5 million National Institute of General Medical Sciences award to explore the effects of pH changes on G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) signaling. The goal of the project, using Isom’s integrated computational and experimental screening platform, is to interrogate the pH sensitivities of a minimum of ﬁve receptors per project year. By the end of the ﬁve-year project period a minimum of 25 GPCRs will have been evaluated from a prioritized list of receptors with known structures, drug interactions, and clinical applications. The project will screen for GPCR-drug interactions against more than 2,000 drug-like compounds. It is anticipated that these efforts will illuminate the molecular basis for GPCR pH sensing, identify GPCR-drug interactions that are regulated by endosomal and pathological pH changes, and spur the development of drugs for selectively modulating receptors at neutral and/or acidic pH.
Biostatistician Receives Nci Funding to Study Triple Negative Breast Cancer
Xi “Steven” Chen, Ph.D., an associate professor in the department of public health sciences and director of biostatistics and bio informatics, has received a $1.7 million R01 grant from the NCI to conduct research in precision medicine for triple negative breast cancer (TNBC), using statistical genomics approaches. Treatment of TNBC often includes neoadjuvant chemotherapy, which has proven to be effective in the treatment of TNBC for a subset 30 percent of patients. However, currently there is no effective way to identify these patients. Chen’s study will use innovative statistical genomics and bioinformatics approaches to generate new strategies to identify TNBC patients most likely to beneﬁt from neoadjuvant chemotherapy, and to discover new biomarkers for targeted treatments and/or immunotherapy in patients who are resistant to chemotherapy. Previously, Chen and his colleagues identiﬁ ed gene signatures for six TNBC subtypes. He also developed the web-based software “TNBCtype,” which has been widely used by the breast cancer research community.
Sylvester Researchers Awarded $1.13 Million Dod Idea Development Award
Sylvester researchers Priyamvada Rai, Ph.D., an associate professor of medicine, and Kerry Burnstein, Ph.D., a professor of molecular and cellular pharmacology, received a $1.13 million Idea Development Award from the Department of Defense to investigate a novel mechanism of inhibiting incurable prostate cancer. Their study focuses on a redox-protective protein present at elevated levels in prostate cancer cells that promotes rapid castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) growth in mice. The research is likely to be highly clinically relevant as a chemical inhibitor that blocks this protein already exists. However, the compound has never been evaluated in prostate cancer and the preliminary data from Rai’s lab suggests a uniquely strong susceptibility to this drug in the CRPC/androgen deprivation therapy setting. The grant will fund their research for a three-year period and it is expected that these pre-clinical studies with the inhibitor will lead to a clinical trial protocol.
Bankhead-coley Grants Fund Study of Notch Pathway
Sylvester’s Anthony J. Capobianco, Ph.D., a professor of surgery, received a $1.3 million Bankhead-Coley grant from the State of Florida to study small-molecule inhibitors of Notch transcriptional activation. Capobianco’s research focuses on the elucidation of the Notch signaling pathway and how deregulation of this pathway drives cancer. The deregulation of the Notch pathway is common in many human cancers and contributes to properties that guide resistance to therapy and metastasis. Therapeutic targeting of this pathway is a clear objective in the era of precision medicine. Early in 2017, Capobianco received another $1.5 million Bankhead-Coley grant for his research.