Bioanalysis Zone

Development of new molecules that have the potential to increase patients’ immune response to tumors


Researchers at the University of Arkansas (UA; AR, USA) have received US$1.5 million in funding from the National Cancer Institute to work on the development of a new set of molecules and biopharmaceuticals that are able to help prevent the reoccurrence of cancer within 5 years after initial treatment.

Usually, a patient receives many treatments to combat the initial tumor (hormone therapy, chemotherapy and radiotherapy) and more often than not, the treatment yields positive results. Before being cleared, a final check is completed. Often, currently available diagnostics show that there are no detectable tumors; however, small undetectable tumors still remain, having already seeded in crucial organs (such as the liver or brain) or bone.

This results in many patients returning to the doctor with dizziness, headaches and migraines after their initial treatment, which is the result of multiple new abnormal structural changes in the brain. Metastasis alone is responsible for around 90% of deaths of cancer patients, and the work that this team is undertaking shows promise in heavily reducing the reoccurrence of these secondary malignancies.

The team of researchers at UA consists of David Zaharoff, the principal investigator for the project and an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at UA, who works in collaboration with Suresh Kumar, an associate professor in the department of chemistry and biochemistry at UA.

Zaharoff expressed excitement for the project and the prospect of working with Kumar, as both have similar ambitions yet different skill sets, which should enable them to complete the project. He commented, “Our labs have been working together for a couple years, yet I feel that we have only begun to scratch the surface of what is possible.”

Zaharoff has also had previous success with Interleukin-12, which was able to eradicate tumors from the bladders of mice and, in total, he has now received over $3 million in grants.

Throughout the 5-year grant, Zaharoff will mainly be focused on delivery systems and biomaterials whilst Kumar will primarily concentrate on the protein biochemistry aspect. If all goes to plan, the vaccines and immunotherapies they are creating will eradicate the possibility of secondary malignancies away from the primary site redeveloping.

Source: Research will help clinicians attack hidden metastatic tumors.


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