In the news / Cancer

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Dr. Jennifer Barton, University of Arizona professor of biomedical engineering and director of the BIO5 Institute, has been appointed to the National Advisory Council for Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, part of the National Institutes of Health. The council advises the leadership of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, or NIBIB, on policies and priorities related to research, training and health information dissemination in the areas of biomedical imaging and engineering.
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In an interview with MD Magazine, Dr. Monica Kraft, Department of Medicine chair at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson, detailed her session on interpreting gender sex differences in lung disease, and what clinicians need to know when monitoring and caring for women at risk of asthma.
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Tanning (and burning) can lead to Melanoma, one of the most common skin cancers among adolescents and young adults. New prevention and treatment methods for skin cancers are being developed by the UA Cancer Center’s Skin Cancer Institute (SCI). The Institute houses experts including SCI founder Dr. David Alberts and SCI co-director Dr. Clara Curiel, both BIO5 faculty, who are collaborating to help make skin cancers a thing of the past.
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Funded by the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute at the National Institute of Health, Jacob Schwartz, Ph.D., professor at Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Arizona College of Science and researcher at The BIO5 Institute, has created a new drug treatment for a class of cancers. Schwartz’s primary focus is Ewing’s sarcoma, a childhood cancer that is driven by the proteins he and is students are investigating.
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Most studies have shown correlations between the microbiome and the effectiveness of drugs, but a recent study is one of the first to dig into how these associations work. Better understanding the causal links in drug responses may mean scientists are able to do more with our gut microbes.  BIO5 faculty and UA College of Medicine-Phoenix associate professor Dr. Melissa Herbst-Kralovetz, thinks this may pave the way for doctors to choose the most effective drug for individual patients.
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To lower the need for invasive procedures, UA COM-T Pharmacology and Toxicology professor Dr. Bernard Futscher, worked to develop a new blood test to detect most major cancers. The research and development was completed through the recently launched startup, DesertDx, created to bring the invention to doctors and their patients.
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Dr. Jeff Burgess, UA Associate Dean for Research in the College of Public Health, researches the exposure firefighters encounter when they first start their careers, to the end of their service. Dr. Burgess’ research has already been used to help the Tucson Fire Department, who are working with other local groups to assemble wash kits used to limit the exposure of first responders to cancer causing chemicals.
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Dr. Clara Curiel, clinical director of the SCI and leader of the UA Cancer Center cutaneous oncology team uses chemoprevention to slow, stop, or reverse the progression of skin cancer. Chemoprevention strategies can be employed at many points in time, starting when skin already has been damaged by UV radiation.
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Tech Launch Arizona, UA’s technology commercialization arm, honored some of its most promising inventors and biggest supporters at the I-Squared Awards Banquet and Expo earlier this month. Awardees included BIO5's Director Dr. Jennifer Barton with Campus Collaborator of the Year award, as well as BIO5 member Dr. Louise Hecker who was named Inventor of the Year.
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Ovarian cancer is relatively rare, striking 1 out of 78 women, but is also one of the deadliest cancers, with only 44% of patients surviving five years past their diagnosis. After their disease goes into remission, many patients worry the cancer will return. Many clinicians advise patients to make positive changes in diet and exercise, as these choices lay a foundation for good health overall.
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Dr. Jefferey Burgess, BIO5 member and Dean of Research at the UA College of Public Health, who has researched firefighters and cancer for more than 25 years, says the evidence shows firefighters are regularly exposed to carcinogens in the field, and that firefighters are diagnosed with cancer more than the general public.
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A team of UA scientists hope they have made progress toward a next-generation drug that may slow tumor growth and boost radiation’s effectiveness in patients with glioblastoma, a deadly brain cancer. The team includes BIO5 member Dr. Michael Hammer, Co-Director of the UA Cancer Center Genomics Shared Resource.
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Using an affordable, portable device that attaches to a smartphone, BIO5 member Dr. Dongkyun “DK” Kang, Assistant Professor in the UA Department of Biomedical Engineering and the College of Optical Sciences, and his collaborators hope to save lives of those suffering from cervical cancer in rural Africa.
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A team of University of Arizona researchers who looked for genetic differences between glioblastoma cells from long- and short-term survivors discovered that those who survived longer had a protein that might be targeted to increase survival in all glioblastoma patients. The results were presented this month at the Society for Neuro-Oncology conference in New Orleans. This work is in its early stages, and the researchers say they are many years and millions of dollars away from potential translation into treatments for patients.
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Dr. Justina McEvoy, Assistant Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology, and member of the UA Cancer Center and the UA BIO5 Institute has focused her work on Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS), a rare cancer of the skeletal muscle that primarily affects pediatric patients. Dr. McEvoy and her team have sifted through a large genetic and protein database collected for rhabdomyosarcoma to identify pathways containing potential drug targets.
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BIO5 member Dr. Kirsten Limesand, Professor of Nutritional Sciences, is devoted to finding a cure for post-chemoradiation dry mouth. Research from Limesand's lab has led to a clinical trial that is being conducted by the UA Cancer Center, as well as a published a paper that was recognized with the APSselect award, given to the best articles in physiological research.
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AZBio has announced that BIO5's Dr. Clara Curiel-Lewandrowski, Professor of Medicine at the UA Cancer Center, has been named 2018 Arizona Bioscience Researcher of the Year. Dr. Curiel-Lewandrowski was honored by Arizona’s bioscience and business communities for her leadership and her work on both the treatment and prevention of skin cancers at the AZBio Awards.
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Dr. Clara Curiel, BIO5 member and UA dermatology professor, says getting screened for skin cancer can make all the difference. "Get to know your skin, if you have something that is behaving differently than the rest of the moles you have, this is when you need to start looking for some kind of medical evaluation."
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A team led by the UA Cancer Center’s Dr. Melissa M. Herbst-Kralovetz, BIO5 member and associate professor at the UA College of Medicine – Phoenix, studied 100 premenopausal women to find links between vaginal bacteria and cervical cancer. They found that there is a distinct difference between the vaginal microbiome in those who develop cervical cancer and those who do not.
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UA has licensed two inventions developed in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry to startup MCR Therapeutics. The inventors, Dr. Minying Cai and Dr. Victor J. Hruby, both BIO5 members, developed a melanin-producing compound for a systemic approach to preventing skin damage.
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BIO5 members Dr. Donna Zhang and Dr. Georg Wondrak have developed a means of protecting skin and repairing damage from UV radiation through the activation of NRF2, a transcription factor that regulates photoprotective responses in the skin potentially preventing premature aging and carcinogenesis.
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A new blood test, the IsoPSA, showed promise in trials to more accurately diagnose prostate cancer. Dr. Richard J. Ablin, BIO5 researcher, member of the Arizona Cancer Center, and Professor at the UA College of Medicine—Tucson, performed research in hopes of finding an antigen specific to the prostate for use in a blood test for prostate cancer screening, which led to the discovery of PSA in 1970.
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A UA research team, including senior author Dr. Wolfgang Peti and Dr. Rebecca Page, both members of the BIO5 Institute, is the first group of scientists to figure out the full pathway for activating a protein kinase. "Kinases are one of the major cancer drug targets," said Dr. Peti. "If you know how a kinase works, you can definitely better design your drugs against it."
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The Arizona Biomedical Research Commission has recognized 14 researchers from the UA Health Sciences to receive grant awards totaling more than $5.92 million. Eight of those researchers are BIO5 members, including Dr. Frank Duca, Dr. Louise Hecker, Dr. Tally Largent-Milnes, Dr. John Purdy, Dr. Benjamin Renquist, Dr. Todd Vanderah, Dr. Jun Wang, and Dr. Frederic Zenhausern.
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Some people go on diets to lose weight, but what if there's a diet that could help save your life? Researchers at the UA, led by BIO5 member Dr. Donato Romagnolo, say eating a "Mediterranean diet" reduces the risk for cancer.
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BIO5 members Donato Romagnolo, PhD, and Ornella Selmin, PhD, of the UA Cancer Center and College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, delve into current research to examine how the Mediterranean diet is connected to the prevention of several chronic diseases, including colorectal cancer and breast cancer.
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A UA Cancer Center and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences research team is conducting a series of studies investigating how genistein, a component of soy foods, might suppress the development of breast cancer. The team is led by BIO5's Dr. Donato F. Romagnolo.
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Tucson-based drug startup Cancer Prevention Pharmaceuticals Inc. has announced the launch of a Phase 2 clinical trial at Vanderbilt University Medical Center to test the company’s flagship drug candidate for preventing gastric cancer. The company was co-founded by BIO5 Institute member and Cancer Center member Dr. Eugene Gerner.
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The UA’s BIO5 Institute has recently been ranked No. 4 on a list of the "50 Best Graduate Research Institutes 2016" on the Grad School Hub website. Ranking is based on awards and recognition for the research conducted, having a facility that reaches a certain level of LEED certification, the amount of university research and development expenditures, "wow factor", etc.
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A team of UA College of Pharmacy faculty including BIO5 Member Dr. Donna Zhang, are looking at a compound called bixin, that can prevent skin cancer by preventing sunburn. Bixin is found in annatto, a natural food additive that gives cheese its yellow color, and is derived from the seeds of the achiote fruit.
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Dr. Jeff Burgess is leading an investigative study in conjunction with the UA College of Public Health on local firefighters. Dr. Burgess and fellow BIO5 member Dr. Shane Snyder are working together to study the range of occupational exposures on firefighters, and how those exposures are affecting their bodies, health, and risk of disease.
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There are a number of clinical trials focusing on cancer in dogs, aimed not just at curing man's best friend, but at finding answers in medical science's war on human cancer. At the UA, scientists are looking to gut bacteria to try to prove the adage that having a dog makes people healthier.
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A World Health Organization report stated that processed meat causes colorectal cancer, and that red meat probably causes cancer. Not all meat is processed meat, but it is best to maintain a plant-based diet, especially when fighting cancer, said Dr. Cynthia Thomson, director of the UA Canyon Ranch Center for Prevention and Health Promotion.
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Multiple BIO5 members were honored at the 2015 Influential Health and Medical Leaders Awards, hosted by Tucson Local Media. Two members, Dr. Leslie Boyer and Dr. Fernando Martinez, went home with awards.