OHSU

OHSU Knight Cancer Institute Awarded Four Grants Worth More Than $7.75 Million

07/15/10  Portland, Ore.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure funds three OHSU research projects aimed at improving breast cancer detection and treatment; The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society supports OHSU’s exploration of new treatment approaches for blood cancer

Oregon Health & Science University Knight Cancer Institute was awarded more than $7.75 million in grants to fund breast cancer research and explore new approaches to treating patients with leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma.

Brian J. Druker, M.D., director of the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, received a $6.25 million grant from The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), through its prestigious Marshall A. Lichtman Specialized Center of Research (SCOR) research initiative. The SCOR program funds teams of researchers representing different disciplines who are engaged in collaborative efforts to discover new approaches to treat patients with leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure awarded three grants worth more than $1.5 million to OHSU Knight Cancer Institute researchers to support a range of projects from a study to boost breast cancer screening rates to an effort to identify genetic footprints in noncancerous breast tissue to predict which abnormalities are likely to become cancerous to research designed to develop novel chemical compounds that target breast cancer.

“We are gratified to receive such generous support from two organizations that share our goal of defeating cancer,” Druker said. “The funding will advance our efforts at the Knight Cancer Institute to develop personalized treatments, improve prevention efforts and, ultimately, help end cancer-related suffering.”

Druker first received funding from LLS in 1996 that was instrumental in his discovery and development of Gleevec, a drug that improved survival for patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). The first cancer therapy of its kind, Gleevec works by inhibiting an enzyme that is mutated in the disease. It targets a “tyrosine kinase” protein that is integral to CML, and has thereby substantially improved outcomes for most CML patients. Druker is continuing to study other members of this class of proteins that are involved in a wide variety of leukemias and other cancers including developing new diagnostic tests and target treatments for patients with AML, acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), and myeloproliferative disorders.
The three grants that Susan G. Komen for the Cure awarded to the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute are part of a $59 million portfolio of 2010 research grants that Komen will be investing with scientists worldwide to find the cures for breast cancer.

A Komen grant for $559,996 awarded to Xiangshu Xiao, Ph.D., an assistant professor in OHSU’s Program in Chemical Biology, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, will be used to fund work developing novel chemical compounds to target breast cancer cells with an ultimate goal of providing better treatment options for breast cancer patients.

“I am really excited to receive the Komen award. The grant will support our development of novel chemical compounds that are designed to target breast cancer cells. These compounds could be the first step on the way to improved treatment options for breast cancer,” Xiao said. “The Komen award will facilitate a productive collaboration between the Knight Cancer Institute and the OHSU Program in Chemical Biology that is focused on drug development.”

Lisa J. Domenico, associate director, Regional Cancer Control Strategies, received $500,000 for research that is developing tools to guide tactics to ensure women, especially those in at-risk populations, receive mammography screenings. The research will take findings from studies for what has been shown to be effective in getting women to screenings and determine how those findings can be adapted for different types of settings such as urban and rural communities. Once the research is complete, the results will be shared with Komen for their community outreach activities.

“The goal is to maintain the fidelity of research done, but find ways to adapt it to specific situations,” Domenico said. “It will help community groups determine what they should be doing to be more effective.”

A grant for $449,850 awarded to Megan Troxell, M.D, Ph.D., who is an associate professor in OHSU’s Department of Pathology, will support work identifying genetic footprints in noncancerous breast tissue that may help doctors predict which breast abnormalities pose more danger of becoming cancerous than others.  

“This project has the potential to impact future diagnosis and management of these poorly understood lesions,” Troxell said.  “I will also have the opportunity to benefit from the mentorship and experience of breast cancer researchers and scientists at OHSU and other institutions.”

The more than $1.5 million in grants for OHSU represents a substantial increase in Komen’s support for research in Oregon. Before this latest round of grants, Komen had awarded about $1.2 million in research grants in Oregon since 1999.

“We have a tremendous sense of urgency at Susan G. Komen for the Cure to find better screening methods that will help us find cancers earlier, and more accurately predict the course of the disease,” said Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker, founder and CEO of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. “We can’t say it often enough: early detection saves lives, and we must develop more accurate, cost-effective technology that can be used on a global scale.”

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About OHSU
Oregon Health & Science University is the state’s only health and research university, and Oregon’s only academic health center. OHSU is Portland's largest employer and the fourth largest in Oregon (excluding government). OHSU's size contributes to its ability to provide many services and community support activities not found anywhere else in the state. It serves patients from every corner of the state, and is a conduit for learning for more than 3,400 students and trainees. OHSU is the source of more than 200 community outreach programs that bring health and education services to every county in the state.

About Susan G. Komen for the Cure®
Nancy G. Brinker promised her dying sister, Susan G. Komen, she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer forever. In 1982, that promise became Susan G. Komen for the Cure and launched the global breast cancer movement. Today, Komen for the Cure is the world’s largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists fighting to save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all and energize science to find the cures. Thanks to events like the Komen Race for the Cure®, we have invested more than $1.5 billion to fulfill our promise, becoming the largest source of nonprofit funds dedicated to the fight against breast cancer in the world. For more information about Susan G. Komen for the Cure, breast health or breast cancer, visit www.komen.org or call 1-877 GO KOMEN.

About The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society ® (LLS) is the world’s largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer. The LLS mission: Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. LLS funds lifesaving blood cancer research around the world and provides free information and support services.  Founded in 1949 and headquartered in White Plains, NY, LLS has chapters throughout the United States and Canada. To learn more, visit www.LLS.org or contact the Information Resource Center at (800) 955-4572, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET. www.lls.org

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