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Scientists awarded carcinoid tumor and pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor research grants

ORLANDO, Fla. The American Association for Cancer Research is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2011 Caring for Carcinoid Foundation-AACR Grants for Carcinoid Tumor and Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumor Research and the 2011 Raymond and Beverly Sackler AACR Fellowships for Ileal Carcinoid Tumor Research.

These grant-giving mechanisms, created in partnership with the Caring for Carcinoid Foundation (CFCF) and the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Fund for the Arts and Sciences, will advance the understanding of neuroendocrine tumor biology, elucidate the mechanisms of currently available therapies, and identify new treatment targets for carcinoid and pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors.

"The AACR is pleased to announce the first winners of grants created in partnership with the Caring for Carcinoid Foundation and the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Fund for the Arts and Sciences, two outstanding organizations dedicated to accelerating progress against neuroendocrine tumors," said Margaret Foti, Ph.D., M.D. (h.c.), CEO of the American Association for Cancer Research. "The scientists chosen by the Selection Committee to receive these grants are conducting exciting work that has the potential to lead to improved treatments for these cancers."

Caring for Carcinoid Foundation-AACR Grants for Carcinoid Tumor and Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumor Research: These two-year grants of $250,000 ($125,000 per year) support junior and senior investigators as they develop and study new ideas and innovative approaches that have direct application and relevance to carcinoid tumors or pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors.

  • Xianxin Hua, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor, Abramson Cancer Research Institute, Department of Cancer Biology, the University of Pennsylvania

Hua will develop novel modalities that will be useful for treating pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors, by targeting the pathway that is regulated by menin, a tumor suppressor that is mutated in patients with the inherited Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Type I (MEN1) syndrome.

Hua's lab has found that menin appears to suppress a pro-proliferative signaling pathway via protein methylation. As menin mutations are linked to pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors, his findings raise the possibility that targeting the menin-regulated signaling pathway may be crucial for treating neuroendocrine tumors. This project is intended to unravel the crucial role of the menin-regulated cascade in the maintenance of neuroendocrine tumors, underscoring the pathway as an important target for therapy against neuroendocrine tumors.

  • Charles M. Rudin, M.D., Ph.D., professor of oncology, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center; and co-director of the Upper Aerodigestive Cancer Program, Johns Hopkins University

Rudin's research group focuses on novel cancer therapeutic development. One of the therapeutic approaches they have been most interested in is the use of a small RNA virus that can selectively infect and destroy certain cancers, especially cancers with neuroendocrine features. Their funded project, Oncolytic Viral Therapy for Carcinoid and Other Neuroendocrine Tumors, will seek to better define how this virus selectively targets cancer cells, in order to guide subsequent clinical application in patients with aggressive neuroendocrine cancers such as atypical carcinoid and small cell carcinoma.

2011 Raymond and Beverly Sackler AACR Fellowships for Ileal Carcinoid Tumor Research: These two-year grants of $100,000 ($50,000 per year) support basic, translational, clinical or epidemiological research with direct application and relevance to ileal carcinoid tumors.

  • Yanping Li, Ph.D., postdoctoral research fellow, Vollum Institute & Knight Cancer Institute, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon

Li's project, cAMP regulation of carcinoid proliferation and function, focuses on the possibility that the hormones and peptides secreted by the carcinoid tumor may also provide proliferative signals to the carcinoid cells, forming a positive feedback loop. The hope is that this study will reveal the nature of this positive feedback loop in carcinoid tumors and identify Epac2 as a novel target for anti-cancer therapeutics.

  • Monica Ter-Minassian, Sc.D., postdoctoral fellow, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; postdoctoral fellow, Harvard School of Public Health

Ter-Minassian's project, Molecular Markers of Outcome in Ileal Carcinoid Tumor and Other NET, is focused on the discovery and characterization of molecular and genetic factors impacting ileal carcinoid neuroendocrine tumor patient survival. She aims to first define the prognostic significance of traditional factors, including serum biomarkers chromogranin A and alkaline phosphatase in a large, prospective cohort. She will then identify common inherited genetic variants (single nucleotide polymorphisms) associated with survival and explore potential associations between these genetic variants and treatment outcomes in metastatic patients treated with specific therapeutic agents.


Contact: Michele Sharp
American Association for Cancer Research

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