Cancer Research Blog

Bringing You the Latest in the Search For a Cure

Month: September 2014

Cancer Detection, Diagnosis, and Treatment Technologies for Global Health: Supporting the development of low-cost technologies for LMICs

It is estimated that nearly two-thirds of the 7.6 million annual cancer deaths in the world occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).  Furthermore, the incidence rate of cancer is on the rise in populations of many LMICs, with substantial inequalities in cancer survival rates across the world.  Access to cancer prevention, screening, detection, diagnosis, and treatment are significant challenges in many LMICs, especially in rural areas with limited infrastructure.

Prevention, early detection, and treatment are vital to the successful treatment of many cancers in LMICs.  However, much of this depends on effective technologies, many of which are not suitable for use in low resource settings due to expense, dependency on extensive medical infrastructure, or both.   This situation warrants translational efforts to develop appropriate technologies that could help improve treatment of cancers in resource-poor settings.

Grantee Spotlight: Harold “Bo” Netwon Lovvorn, III, M.D. – Molecular Analysis of Ethnic Variations in Wilms tumor

Cancers that develop in children are often different from those diagnosed in adults, and usually are a result of DNA changes that naturally happen throughout a child’s growth periods, and sometimes, even before they are born. Thus, efforts to identify successful and effective treatments for this vulnerable group require a specific focus at the molecular level to aid in understanding childhood cancers.

Harold Newton “Bo” Lovvorn, III, M.D., Assistant Professor of Pediatric Surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, a CRCHD R21 workforce diversity grantee , is taking his pediatric cancer research even further – to include child cancer patients from underrepresented ethnic backgrounds. In so doing, he is seeking to ensure that pediatric cancer health research will be beneficial to all children, regardless of background.

Grantee Spotlight: Kimberly Payne, Ph.D. – Investigating Leukemia Health Disparities in Hispanic and Native American Children

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), cancer of the blood and bone marrow, is the most common childhood malignancy, representing about 25% of cancer diagnoses among children younger than 15 years. Although it is highly treatable when detected early, Hispanic and Native American children experience a significantly higher death rate from the disease. One variation of ALL, a type of B-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (B-ALL), is very high-risk and occurs more frequently in these populations.

Kimberly Payne, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Director of Translational Research at the Loma Linda University School of Medicine in Loma Linda, CA, is funded by an NCI-CRCHD R21 grant to investigate the genetic underpinning for this disparity. B-ALL is a type of leukemia in which white blood cells called “B lymphocytes” (which normally make antibodies to help fight infection) are immature and defective, and the bone marrow makes too many of them. Under the grant, Payne is developing a pre-clinical model to identify the genetic mechanisms for B-ALL so she can develop and evaluate therapies to target those mechanisms, and treat the cancer that occurs at high frequency among Hispanic and Native American children.

Grantee Spotlight: Dana-Lynn Koomoa-Lange, Ph.D.- Exploring Chemical Pathways to Hinder Development of Neuroblastoma

Dana-Lynn Koomoa-Lange, Ph.D. is exploring signaling pathways in the progression of neuroblastoma (NB), a nervous system cancer, in an effort to develop new drugs to thwart the disease.

Koomoa-Lange is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy, University of Hawaii in Hilo. She is studying the interplay between signal transduction and calcium signaling pathways in the malignant progression of neuroblastoma (the most common extra-cranial pediatric solid tumor). Her research is being funded by an NCI CRCHD CURE K01 grant.

Program Spotlight: University of Puerto Rico and MD Anderson Partnership Welcomes Its First Graduates, Dedicated to Researching Cancer Health Disparities

CRCHD joins the Principal Investigators and Diversity Training co-leaders of the University of Puerto Rico and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center U54 Partnership for Excellence in Cancer Research in congratulating its first MDPhD graduates Sergei Gumá-de La Vega and Nahir Cortés-Santiago.

The UPR/MD Anderson Partnership was formalized and funded by an NCI Minority Institute Cancer Center U54 Partnership grant in 2002, and has maintained continuous funding. U54 is a mechanism under CRCHD’s Partnerships to Advance Cancer Health Equity (PACHE) program, which enables long-term collaborations between underrepresented-serving institutions and NCI-designated Cancer Centers to serve racially and ethnically diverse communities throughout the U.S. A major goal of UPR/MD Anderson partnership is to train the next generation of Hispanic physicians and scientists in cancer and cancer health disparities research, and help establish an infrastructure at Puerto Rico’s first cancer center (to open in Spring 2016) — with a mutual aim to end health disparities among Hispanics and Latinos in the U.S.

October Spotlight: Breast Cancer Disparity Highlights

In October, CRCHD joins the rest of the nation in recognizing Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

In the United States, women from diverse racial and ethnic groups continue to suffer from breast cancer disparities. African American and Hispanic/Latino women, in particular, experience a great burden from breast cancer (in incidence and mortality) compared to the general female population in the U.S. 

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