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$2.7 million awarded for metastatic colon cancer research

PHILADELPHIA Through the generous philanthropic support of the Littlefield 2000 Trust, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is pleased to announce four recipients of the 2007 Jeannik M. Littlefield-AACR Grants for Metastatic Colon Cancer Research, totaling $2.7 million. Now in its second year, this competitive grant program supports the cutting-edge research of top scientists from around the world, working to accelerate the discovery and development of new treatments for metastatic colon cancer.

Colon cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in men and women. An estimated 154,000 new cases will be diagnosed this year in the U.S. alone. While colon cancer in its earliest stages is often treatable, the spread, or metastasis of the disease to other parts of the body makes for a more complicated course of treatment and potentially a poorer prognosis. Metastatic colon cancer research will advance our understanding of disease progression, the goal being to develop improved therapeutics and achieve better outcomes for patients.

With individual grants ranging from $500,000 to nearly $1 million, the Littlefield funding is intended to have high impact and foster tangible progress against metastatic colon cancer. Special emphasis is placed on research that holds promise for bringing new therapeutics for metastatic colon cancer to patients within a one- to two-year period.

The 2007 Jeannik M. Littlefield-AACR grantees are: Michael Kahn, Ph.D., University of Southern California, Los Angeles (USC); Michael Karin, Ph.D., University of California, San Diego (UCSD); Louis Weiner, M.D., Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia; and Makoto Mark Taketo, M.D., Ph.D., Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan.

More than 80 grant applications were submitted and rigorously reviewed by a committee of esteemed senior scientists. Four outstanding projects emerged as the most promising in terms of their potential to make substantive contributions to metastatic colon cancer research and treatment in the near future, said Margaret Foti, Ph.D., M.D. (h.c.), AACRs chief executive officer. We offer our congratulations to all four investigators and wish them continued success in accomplishing their very relevant and demanding research goals.

Kahn, in concert with his lab at USC, will apply his AACR-Littlefield grant to research and development of a new therapeutic agent that targets and weakens the β-catenin signaling pathway present in colon cancers. Currently, no treatment exists that is specifically aimed at reducing the functions of this pathway, and Kahn and his associates are dedicated to advancing this chemotherapeutic solution through clinical trials for metastatic colon cancer.

Expanding the knowledge and understanding of the connection between inflammation and metastasis of colon cancer will be the focus of Karin and his team of researchers at UCSD. The AACR-Littlefield grant will support Karins work to explore the effects of different types of inflammation on the spread of colon cancer and potentially inhibit the growth of metastases through the development of new anti-inflammatory therapeutic strategies. Karin is hopeful that his discoveries can lead to new ways of treating metastatic colon cancer, using both new and existing anticancer therapies.

Weiner and his team at Fox Chase Cancer Center will allocate AACR-Littlefield grant support for unprecedented research looking for functional approaches to identifying important drug response-modifying genes that can be therapeutically targeted to improve colorectal cancer treatment. Weiners research seeks an analytical and experimental basis for introducing new ways of treating colorectal cancers with existing agents, specifically EGFR pathway-targeted drugs. He expects that these findings can act as a vast resource for future research studies of this type.

Taketo of Kyoto University will apply his AACR-Littlefield grant to support his teams research aimed at inhibiting the CCR1 protein as a way to contain and minimize the invasion and spread of colon cancer throughout the body. Taketo plans to use a cellular targeted therapy approach, as opposed to molecular targeted therapy, with the hope of reducing the side effects of treatment and developing a new approach to treating metastatic colon cancer.


Contact: Jennifer Ryan
American Association for Cancer Research

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