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Scripps Research wins more than $2 million to study prostate cancer

JUPITER, FL, April 26, 2011 The Scripps Research Institute and Tampa's Moffitt Cancer Center have been awarded more than $2 million to study the formation and progression of prostate cancer. Of the funds awarded, approximately $1.9 million will go to Scripps Research, with the remaining $138,380 supporting Moffitt Cancer Center work.

The five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will fund research to advance the development of novel therapeutic strategies for prostate cancer treatment and prevention.

"This new funding will help us continue our work into the origins of prostate cancer and the role that inflammation plays in its development," said Jun-Li Luo, PhD, an assistant professor on the Florida campus of Scripps Research and principal investigator for the new study. "We are pleased that Moffitt, one of the country's leading treatment and research centers, will be our partner in this research. Gaining a better understanding of the inflammatory process should help lay the foundation for developing novel therapeutic strategies for this disease."

"This collaboration with Scripps Florida is a great opportunity to help uncover the underlying mechanisms of prostate cancer," said Shohreh Dickinson, MD, an assistant professor at Moffitt, where scientists will study and interpret pathology slides of human cells as part of the new study. "It's also a great opportunity for two Florida research centers to advance the science that, hopefully, will one day help put an end to this terrible disease."

Prostate cancerwhich, according to the American Cancer Society, will affect one in six American men in their lifetimeis the second-leading cause of death after lung cancer in American men. Prostate cancer is driven by androgen, the male sex hormone, and androgen deprivation is considered a first-line treatment of the disease once it spreads beyond the prostate gland.

Eventually, all prostate cancer becomes resistant to the treatment, and the disease grows independently of androgen. This can occur almost anytime during treatment. Currently there are no effective treatments for what is known as hormone-refractory prostate cancer.

Luo's work has long been focused on the role of inflammation in cancer and the body's innate inflammatory response, which encourages tumor growth. In earlier studies, he found that blocking one of the factors involved in inflammationthe nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-kB)dramatically impaired development of the disease. In addition, Luo has identified tumor-infiltrating B cells as another critical component of the inflammatory response that enhances androgen-independent tumor growth.

The new study will further define how B cells control the spread of hormone refractory cancer.


Contact: Mika Ono
Scripps Research Institute

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