Funded Research

  • Using SiRNA to CCNDI to Overcome Chemoresistence in Mantle Cell Lymphoma
    $25,000 Tower Career Development Grant

    Mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) is a rare and difficult lymphoma to treat. Standard treatment involves aggressive combinations of chemotherapy which often does not lead to long term survival. In the laboratory, scientists have been experimenting with using synthetic RNAs to silence specific genes know to be important in cancer cell survival. These synthetic RNAs are called SiRNA. Cyclin D1 is a specific gene known to be important in MCL biology. We will use SiRNA designed to silence cyclin D1 to improve the efficacy of standard chemotherapy in the treatment of MCL.

    Robert W. Chen, MD
    City of Hope
  • Defining the Molecular Correlates that Determine Activity of Pan-PIM Inhibitor, SGI-1776
    $25,000 Tower Career Development Grant

    PIM kinases are oncogenes that are known to cause lymphomas. Our laboratory was the first to show that PIM-1 predicts shorter survival in aggressive lymphomas and we are currently conducting the first trial of a pill that inactivates PIM kinases. The core of this grant proposal is defining the molecular characteristics that will determine the activity of the PIM inhibitor SGI-1776 in lymphomas. In addition, we will test another target (cyclin D1) for its ability to collaborate with PIM kinases in causing lymphomas. This research may lay the foundation of novel combination treatment strategies.

    Herbert A. Eradat, MD, MS
    University of California, Los Angeles
  • Targeting CML Stem Cells with a Small Molecule Wnt-Signaling Inhibitor
    $50,000 Tower Career Development Grant

    Hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) are responsible for life-long blood production. When HSC acquires chromosomal derangement BCR-ABL their capacity to become diverse blood cells is altered, leading to expansion of white blood cells causing chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). BCR-ABL inhibition with oral drugs can hold the disease. Many patients demonstrate BCR-ABL resistance that leads to acquisition of new mutations in the HSC daughter cells and progression to acute leukemia stages – the Blast Crisis. Activation of Wnt-signaling pathway is critical for progression. We will test novel small-molecule Wnt-signaling inhibitor MCC-301 and analogs for their capacity to kill BC CML cells.

    Edward Kaverlerchik, MD
    University of California, San Diego
  • Correlation of Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma Molecular Profile with Response to Therapeutics
    $50,000 Tower Career Development Grant

    Will correlate gene profile in pancreas cancer cell lines and human specimens with treatment response.

    Eddie Garon, MD
    University of California, Los Angeles
  • Targeting Prostate Cancer Stem Cells with Telomerase Interference
    $50,000 Tower Career Development Grant

    Will examine prostate cancer stem cells which may respond differently to therapy than the differentiated cancer cells, and attempt to determine their vulnerability to the target telomerase (increases chromosome size and thus extends cell longevity.)

    Amir Goldkorn, MD
    University of Southern California
  • Pim-1 in Mantle Cell Lymphoma: A Novel Therapeutic Target
    $50,000 Tower Career Development Grant

    Doing studies to determine the importance of the oncogene Pim-1 in the pathogenesis of some cases of mantle cell lymphoma. Pim-1 may also be a therapeutic target.

    David Kim, MD
    University of California, Los Angeles
  • Transcriptional Regulation of p120-catenin in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
    $50,000 Tower Career Development Grant

    Examining reasons for low levels of a novel catenin (p120 catenin) in non-small cell lung cancer. These low levels are associated with a poor prognosis. Catenins are important for normal cell-cell interactions and adhesions.

    Fariborz Mortazavi, MD
    Wadsworth VA, Los Angeles
  • Anti-Neu5c Antibodies for Breast Cancer Detection
    $50,000 Tower Career Development Grant

    Early diagnosis of breast cancer with mammograms saves lives. Unfortunately, mammography is not as effective in women younger than 50. New tests that work in women of all ages are needed. Research has found a special type of sugar, called Neu5Gc, in breast cancer. Cancer, and our bodies, are unable to make this sugar, but it is plentiful in the diet and can be absorbed when eaten. Once incorporated into breast cancer cells this abnormal sugar causes a reaction by the patient’s immune system. This project will examine this reaction as a potential new test to diagnose breast cancer.

    Richard Schwab, MD
    University of California, San Diego
  • Novel Gene Discovery and Classification for Mantle Cell Lymphoma
    $50,000 Tower Career Development Grant

    The abnormal genes that cause mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) are poorly identified. Recently, an extremely robust technology has become available: 500K SNP chips. This glass platform allows examination of 500,000 sites in the human genome permitting us to study almost every gene in the cell. These chips, therefore, allow identification of genes that are amplified or deleted or have probable small mutations. Examining a large number of samples and associating the genetic abnormalities with the clinical data will permit us to develop new diagnostic subcategorization of this heterogeneous group of diseases, provide prognostic indicators for the patient and physicians, and identify targets for small molecule therapy. Because of its ease and robustness, the 500K SNP chip may become the standard of care for diagnosis, prognosis, and monitoring progession of MCL, as well as other malignancies.

    Saskia Gueller, MD
    Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
  • Inhibiting Src in Colorectal Cancer: Characterization and Identification of Molecular Biomarkers
    $50,000 Tower Career Development Grant

    Despite recent progress, colon cancer remains the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Over the last several years new therapies, known as “targeted therapies” have emerged which are offering patients the hope of improved outcomes with fewer side effects. This proposal is based on determining which patients with colon cancer would benefit from the use of drugs that block a gene known as Src. We will do a series of experiments in colon cancer cells and gene chips to define a patient group that will respond to these drugs before proceeding into a clinical trial.

    Zev Wainberg, MD
    University of California, Los Angeles

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