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Moffitt Cancer Center researcher receives $2.1 million grant from NCI for answering 'Provocative Question'
Date:9/17/2012

TAMPA, Fla. (Sept. 17, 2012) Robert A. Gatenby, M.D., senior member of Moffitt Cancer Center's Department of Diagnostic Imaging and Integrated Mathematical Oncology, and his colleagues have received a four-year, $2.1 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to carry out pre-clinical research focused on cancer cell drug resistance. Researchers will examine cancer's evolutionary mechanisms of drug resistance and focus on prevention strategies.

The grant (CA170595-01) stems from the NCI's "Provocative Questions" Project. Researchers from across the country were asked to respond to 24 provocative questions in hopes of stimulating the NCI's research communities. The questions focused on specific advances in understanding cancer and cancer control, broad issues on the biology of cancer, the likelihood of progress in less than a decade, and ways to overcome obstacles to achieving long-term goals.

Gatenby answered question 21: "Given the appearance of resistance in response to cell killing therapies, can we extend survival by using approaches that keep tumors static?"

According to the NCI, the question addresses the relationship between drug resistance in cancer treatment and the Darwinian Theory about natural selection and adaptation to selective environmental pressures. In the case of cancer cells, the environmental pressure refers to chemotherapy and survival means becoming resistant to the drugs aimed at killing them.

The question also asks whether an evolutionary approach can create a balance in tumor cells by not creating resistance through attempts to kill cells but, rather, provide an environment where selection forces are weak. Speculation is that under weak selective forces, cancer cells can live in a form of balance, not dying or becoming drug resistant.

Gatenby's approach to treatment is through a term he and his research team coined adaptive therapy.

"Adaptive therapy shifts the treatment pa
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Contact: Kim Polacek
kim.polacek@moffitt.org
813-745-7408
H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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