The National Cancer Institute awarded more than $2 million to a team at the Wilmot Cancer Institute to continue their study of a gene network that controls cancer progression, with a focus on pancreatic cancer.
The five-year grant will fund a series of new scientific experiments involving a gene known as Plac8. In earlier work, Wilmot investigators showed that by inactivating Plac8 they could stop or slow pancreatic tumor growth in mice and significantly extend survival – making Plac8 an attractive target for drug development.
Principle investigator Hartmut “Hucky” Land, Ph.D., and co-investigator Aram Hezel, M.D., had been studying a wider system of genes and cellular events involved in cancer, when they discovered that Plac8 is a key driver in malignancies but is not essential to the function of normal tissue.
Plac8’s cancer-specific role makes it a viable treatment target, said Land, the director of research and co-direct at Wilmot, and the Robert and Dorothy Markin Professor and Chair of the Department of Biomedical Genetics at the University of Rochester.
“The goal is always to find precise interventions that do not impact healthy tissue,” Land said, “and in this case we believe we have a novel opportunity.”
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