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The 2009 Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovation Award Granted for Pioneering Ideas for Early Detection of Ovarian and Lung Cancers, Bone Marrow Transplant Safety, and Discovery of New Genetic Markers for Cancer
Date:1/22/2009

NEW YORK and PALO ALTO, Calif., Jan. 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation announced today that three novel approaches to fighting cancer have won 2009 Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovation Awards. The prize of $450,000 over three years is awarded each year to three projects by early-career scientists that have the potential to have a major impact on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

The 2009 Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovators are:

Muneesh Tewari, MD, Ph.D., Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, For Early Detection of Ovarian & Lung Cancers

For many years, scientists have unsuccessfully attempted to detect microscopic elements of tumors in blood for the purpose of diagnosing cancer in its early stages. With the recent advancements in computing power and DNA sequencing, Dr. Tewari is able to pursue a new line of investigation focused on microRNAs - a course which could finally lead to a solution.

Dr. Tewari has discovered that certain microRNAs are only made by tumor cells and that these can be detected in blood samples. His work could lead to the development of a highly sensitive blood test for cancers, particularly ovarian and lung, both of which are notoriously difficult to detect in their initial stages.

Dr. Tewari said, "We have come to a point where a substantially new approach for early detection has opened up, yet the work is so early that traditional sources of funding are not willing to invest in it. Thanks to the Foundation and the Rachleffs' vision and support, the concept will be able to be developed with full vigor."

Ivan Maillard, MD, Ph.D., and Yi Zhang, MD, Ph.D., both of the University of Michigan, For Radical Improvements of Bone Marrow Transpla
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SOURCE Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation
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