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Researchers Land Large NCI Grants for Liver & Esophageal Cancer Studies





Ghoshal.png Pan Chen Tong
Ghoshal Pan Chen

Teams of OSUCCC – James scientists have received from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) two large grants for basic-research studies that could lead to better therapies for liver and esophageal cancer. 

A team led  by principal investigator (PI) Kalpana Ghoshal, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Pathology at Ohio State and a member of the Translational  Therapeutics Program at the OSUCCC – James, received a $1.74 million, five-year grant to study the role of microRNA-122 (miR-122) in a mouse model of liver cancer. 

A team led by PI Zui Pan, PhD, research associate professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at Ohio State and a member of the Molecular Carcinogenesis and Chemoprevention (MCC) Program at the OSUCCC – James, and co-PI Tong Chen, MD, PhD, also an assistant professor in the Department of Internal Medicine and a member of the MCC Program, received a $1.63 million, five-year grant to examine how a certain protein contributes to esophageal tumor initiation and progression, and whether it can be used as a biomarker for detection and prognosis. 

In their project abstract, Ghoshal and colleagues state that new treatments for hepatocellular (liver) cancer, or HCC, are urgently needed because of the rising incidence of this disease in the United States and because HCC patients have dismal prognoses and poor responses to current treatments. The research team’s goal is to test novel anti-inflammatory, antifibrotic and antitumor-suppressor agents in a miR-122 knockout mouse model and in human liver tumor cells in hopes of determining the mechanism by which miR-122 protects the liver from tumor formation. They believe this work, combined with earlier studies, will generate preclinical results that will help them design future clinical trials with chemotherapeutic agents in combination with miR-122 for treating patients with HCC.

Pan and colleagues state in their project abstract that biomarkers for early detection and prognosis, as well as novel therapeutic options, are urgently needed for esophageal cancer, which annually accounts for more than 15,000 deaths in the United States and ranks as the sixth-leading cause of cancer death worldwide. Pan’s team has identified a protein called Orai1 that is strongly associated with esophageal tumor progression in both an animal study and in human patients. Their new grant will help them study how Orai1 contributes to tumor initiation and progression and then evaluate it as a potential biomarker for detection and prognosis. “This research project will also aid in searching for more effective interventions for patients suffering from this deadly disease,” they write.  


Article Source: Ohio State Cancer Connection