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UCSD scientists receive prestigious Hartwell Biomedical Research Awards
Date:4/6/2011

ud that Drs. Bui, Itkin-Ansari and Tremoulet have received this recognition and much-needed support to move their research to a new level."

Jack Bui

In the United States, cancer is the leading cause of disease-related death in children under the age of 20. Each year, thousands of children are diagnosed with cancer. Despite massive investments of time and resources, the need for new, innovative cancer therapeutics for this population remains acute.

In a paradigm shift, Bui suggests a solution may lie within. The idea is based on spontaneous remission from terminal cancer, cases in which it's believed the body's own immune system attacked and destroy cancerous cells. Although such documented remissions are quite rare, it's believed the phenomenon happens more frequently, typically in individuals whose cancer is cured before they are even diagnosed.

Bui proposes to understand how spontaneous remission of terminal cancer can be duplicated; how the body's innate immune system recognizes developing tumor cells, then isolates and destroys them. His working hypothesis is that certain genes expressed in cancer cell lines can be used to therapeutically to stimulate the immune system to eradicate cancers like sarcoma.

Pamela Itkin-Ansari

Type-1 diabetes is a disease in which normal pancreatic cells are destroyed by the patient's own immune system causing the loss of insulin production, a hormone essential to regulating carbohydrate and fat metabolism in the body. Children are notably impacted: Of the estimated 850,000 to 1.7 million Americans who have Type 1 diabetes, 125,000 are 19 years and younger. An additional 30,000 Americans develop Type 1 diabetes each year, roughly 13,000 are children.

With collaborators at the Sanford/Burnham Institute for Medical Research, Itkin-Ansari has shown in a mouse model that transplanted pancreatic beta cells can be shielded from the immune system when encapsulated in a
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Contact: Scott LaFee
slafee@ucsd.edu
619-543-6163
University of California - San Diego
Source:Eurekalert

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