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Cancer researchers add spice to research against rare neuromuscular disease

ration with San Diego-based AndroScience Corp., has screened hundreds of compounds for their activity involving the androgen receptor, which is also involved in prostate cancer, acne, and enlarged prostate, as well as Kennedy's disease.

Among the compounds tested is ASC-J9, a synthetic chemical compound that is loosely based on a compound found in curcumin. Significantly, however, ASC-J9 has been chemically modified compared to its natural counterpart to make it much more powerful. Despite the promise it offers for Kennedy's disease, Chang notes that ASC-J9 must be rigorously screened for side effects and effectiveness, through clinical studies in people, before it can be considered as a possible treatment for any disease.

"The compound we are studying has been significantly modified from the original ingredient found in food like curry or ginger," said Chang, a faculty member in the departments of Urology and Pathology and the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center. "It still must be tested in people. We certainly don't want to mislead people to think these foods themselves have any benefit for Kennedy's disease."

Just last month, a clinical trial evaluating the use of ASC-J9 as a cream to treat acne began. The tests are being conducted by AndroScience Corp., a biotech company founded by Chang, Charles C-Y Shih, and Por-Hsiung Lai in 2000. The University owns a stake in the company, which has licensed several of Chang's research findings.

As the director of George Whipple Laboratory for Cancer Research at the University of Rochester Medical Center, much of Chang's research focuses on prostate cancer. His research has explained some previously baffling developments late in the course of that disease, opening the door to newer treatments.

In 1988 Chang was the first to clone the androgen receptor, and he was the first to discover that the protein needs molecular allies called co-factors to accomplish many of its tasks. Now mor
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Source:University of Rochester Medical Center


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