UWindsor research projects draw support from cancer centre foundation

Three research projects involving a total of eight researchers from the University of Windsor, Windsor Regional Cancer Centre, Windsor Regional Hospital, and McGill University will share a total of $206,000 in funding from the Windsor & Essex County Cancer Centre Foundation.

The grants are made under the 2011 Seeds4Hope program, which supports innovative local cancer research.

The foundation’s president, Norma Brockenshire, said she was proud to support the work of the medical and research community.

“These local scientists, we hope, will one day find new ways to detect, treat, and prevent cancer until the day comes when the story of cancer is no longer that of a fatal disease, but one that has been cured or controlled,” she said.

UWindsor vice-president, research, Ranjana Bird, said the University is grateful for the foundation’s support: “The Seeds4Hope cancer research awards program is instrumental in enhancing research collaboration between clinicians and basic scientists to enhance cancer care in the region.”

The funded projects are:

Biochemist James Green, Synthesis and Evaluation of New Anticancer Allocolchinoids
This research project will investigate new methods of preparing a colchicine derivative (an allocolchicine) that has shown, in preliminary work, to be able to kill cancer cells without damaging normal cells. These methods will then be used to prepare compounds similar to the first derivative. The new colchicine derivatives will be evaluated for their anticancer activity in a variety of cancer cells and for their toxicity to non-cancerous cells. Grant amount: $67,000 over two years

Biologist Andrew Swan, Probing the tumour suppressive functions of a known oncogene: Skp2 interacts with cyclin dependent kinases to maintain diploidy
Most cancer-related genes fall into one of two categories: those that protect cells from cancer or those that contribute to cancer. Earlier research has found that Skp2, a cancer-causing gene, also has protective abilities. This new research will seek to understand how Skp2 provides this critical tumour suppressive function, and to determine the relationship between Skp2 and other key cellular proteins during tumour progression. Results from this research will lead to a better understanding of cancer and improved treatments in the long term. Grant amount: $63,000 over two years.

Biochemist Panayiotis (Otis) Vacratsis, Functional Characterization of hYVH1/DUSP12: A Putative Oncogene Overexpressed in Late Stage Cancers
To maintain cellular balance, human cells have sophisticated molecular circuits to monitor cell size and nutrient availability. These circuits then provide this information to master regulators which control DNA replication and cell division. A disruption in this system is a hallmark of most cancers, which allow the tumor cells to grow and divide. This research project will focus on investigating a new cell survival enzyme (hYVH1), that has recently been implemented in both cell growth and division. Grant amount: $76,000 over two years.

The foundation’s research grants administrator, Michael Dufresne, predicted that in coming years, fewer Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer.

“Through excellent, innovative research in all aspects of cancer care - prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and supportive care – we can now say that we are winning the battle against cancer,” he said. “The three cancer research projects funded in the 2011 Seeds4Hope competition will help ensure that cancer research being carried out in our community contributes to this continuing success story.”

Find more information, including more details of each of the projects, on the foundation’s Web site.