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Researchers at the University of
St. Jude Children's
National Cancer Institute
Memphis, Tenn. (April 1, 2009) – Lawrence Pfeffer, PhD, professor of Pathology and director of the Center for Cancer Research at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, and Andrew M. Davidoff, MD, newly appointed chair of the Department of Surgery at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, have been awarded a more than $2.7 million grant to study new strategies for treating glioma, a type of brain cancer. The five-year grant, which began on March 1, was awarded by the National Cancer Institute, a component of the National Institutes of Health. Total amount of the grant is $2,755,230.
“Malignant glioma is an incredibly devastating type of cancer since 90 percent of those who are diagnosed with the disease die within two years,” Dr. Pfeffer said. “Surgery only helps a limited number of cases.” The disease has been in the news since spring 2008 when Senator Ted Kennedy was reported to be suffering from a malignant glioma, for which he underwent brain surgery.
The goal of the study, for which Drs. Pfeffer and Davidoff are both principal investigators, is to determine whether interferon may have some efficacy in defeating the growth of cancer cells. Interferons are natural proteins produced by the cells of the immune system of most vertebrates. Dr. Pfeffer calls them the “first line of defense against any infection.” He has been studying interferon since 1977. In 2002, Dr. Pfeffer earned an endowed professorship, the E. Eric Muirhead Chair of Excellence in Pathology, and has held that distinguished chair ever since.
Dr. Davidoff’s academic interests at St Jude are
focused on clinical and translational investigation and treatment of pediatric
solid tumors, neuroblastoma in particular. Neuroblastoma is the most
common extracranial solid cancer in childhood and the most common cancer in
infancy. About 650 new cases are
diagnosed in the
Three years ago, Dr. Davidoff contacted Dr. Pfeffer and asked him to apply his expertise in measuring the levels of interferon in lab animals (mice and rats). Since that initial collaboration, the basic researcher and the surgeon-scientist have worked together on several projects, publishing papers and now receiving this joint grant.
“Cancer is so smart that it has found pathways to stop interferon from working as well as it can,” Dr. Pfeffer explained. “We want to find ways to overcome cancer’s resistance and perhaps help interferon induce the death of cancer cells.”
The Center for Cancer Research at the UT Health Science Center is the only adult cancer research facility in the Mid-South. “St. Jude does amazing work in pediatric cancer and there are a number of high quality clinical centers in the area for treating adult cancer patients,” Dr. Pfeffer noted, “but our Cancer Research Building is the only facility dedicated to laboratory discovery for adult cancers, and the development of new therapeutics and new protocols. We hope that, in five to 10 years, local clinicians will be implementing what we discover on our campus,” he added.
Deaths due to cardiovascular disease, stroke and infectious
diseases have dropped dramatically since 1950; however, cancer death rates
remain unchanged. Cancer deaths among
men and women continue to increase. The
American Cancer Society (ACS) projected that for 2006 cancer deaths would reach
an estimated 291,270 and 273,560 for men and women, respectively. In the State of
Cancer mortality in the
Authorized by the U.S. Congress in 1937, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) was given a mandate to engage in certain fundamental activities: conducting and fostering cancer research; reviewing and approving grant-in-aid applications to support promising research projects on the causes, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer; collecting, analyzing, and disseminating the results of cancer research conducted in the United States and in other countries; and providing training and instruction in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Over the years, the NCI has evolved into the world's pre-eminent cancer research organization.
St. Jude Children's
As the flagship statewide academic health system, the University of
Tennessee Health Science
Center (UTHSC) is focused on a four-tier mission of education, research,
clinical care and public service, all in support of a single goal: to improve
the health of Tennesseans. Offering a
broad range of postgraduate training opportunities, the main campus is located
This study quantifies the economic impact of the UTHSC on the economy of the state of Tennessee for FY2010.
920 Madison Avenue
Memphis, TN 38163
Phone: (901) 448-5544
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