Cancer-fighting boost

Researchers receive $11.6 million

Researchers at the Cancer Therapy & Research Center were awarded more than $5 million in grants from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas to help in projects ranging from examining the on/off switch of a cancer-fighting molecule to preventing liver cancer in a majority Hispanic South Texas population.

“I’m not surprised, but I’m delighted,” said CTRC Director Ian M. Thompson Jr., M.D. “These grants demonstrate the breadth and depth of our researchers’ talents at every level.”

More than $3 million will go toward a core facility grant for single cancer cell analysis. Tim Huang, Ph.D., professor and chairman of molecular medicine and deputy director of the CTRC, said the grant, announced in May, will allow the CTRC to acquire key pieces that will complete the services already offered by the core facility. Those services include isolating and studying single cancer cells from urine and saliva to develop non-invasive methods for detecting cancer.

“This will give cancer researchers from throughout the region and beyond access to the latest analytical tools operated by a highly qualified technical team, helping them to develop new ways to diagnose, monitor and treat cancer,” he said.

Three CTRC researchers received $1.9 million to support their work in liver and colon cancer prevention and harnessing the body’s defenses to prevent recurrence of cancer.

The awards come on the heels of $6.6 million in research and product development grants given to researchers by the state-funded agency in February. Those included $4.6 million to support researchers’ work ranging from reducing chemotherapy’s painful side effects to unmasking resveratrol’s potential in managing prostate cancer, and a $2 million product development grant to support a new brain cancer therapy’s transition from a research project to a viable treatment option.

The product development grant is for NanoTX Therapeutics, a company formed to accelerate clinical trials of a highly promising nanotechnology that inserts radioactive isotopes into tiny fat particles, allowing concentrated radiation treatment precisely in the tumor. The process allows doctors to give far higher doses of radiation than current technology while minimizing side effects to healthy tissue.The grant will also help the young company develop a management infrastructure and tackle the regulatory process involved in commercializing a new technology.

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