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Wayne State researchers seek calcium channels to target cancer tumors
Date:4/22/2013

DETROIT Two Wayne State University researchers are working on a technique that could lead to easier, faster identification of cancer tumors that can be effectively treated by calcium channel-based therapies.

Rod Braun, Ph.D., associate professor of anatomy and cell biology in the School of Medicine, recently received a two-year, $322,000 grant from the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health to use manganese-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MEMRI) to noninvasively determine the activity of different calcium channels in tumors. He and co-principal investigator Bruce Berkowitz, Ph.D., professor of anatomy and cell biology and ophthalmology, and director of the School of Medicine's Small Animal MRI Facility, are hoping the technique can be used to guide and individualize calcium channel-based treatment of cancer.

Previous research has shown that different types of cancer cells highly express a number of plasma membrane calcium channels, making them important potential therapeutic targets in tumors. Drugs that target specific calcium channels already exist, and several are currently in Phase I clinical trials as anti-cancer agents.

"Unfortunately, it is difficult to determine whether a specifically targeted calcium channel is present in an individual patient's tumor," Braun said.

In their project, "Guiding Ca2+ Channel-Based Cancer Treatment Using Mn2+-Enhanced MRI," he and Berkowitz will use MEMRI to measure tumors' uptake of manganese ion, an MRI contrast agent that largely enters cells via calcium channels. They believe tumor uptake of manganese in the presence of antagonist compounds, which block calcium channels, and agonist compounds, which stimulate them, can be measured using MEMRI, thereby proving useful in predicting potential tumor response to calcium-channel based therapies.

The project has two components. The first will test manganese uptake of prostate, breast and colorectal c
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Contact: Julie O'Connor
julie.oconnor@wayne.edu
313-577-8845
Wayne State University - Office of the Vice President for Research
Source:Eurekalert

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