UTSW receives new funding from CPRIT to advance cancer research: newsroom


An image from the lab of Kalil G. Abdullah, MD, shows a brain tumor organoid used for cancer research

DALLAS – November 19, 2021 – The Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center received grants from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) to increase minority participation in clinical trials, expand lung cancer screening, develop drugs against brain tumors; and advancing innovations in drug discovery and technology.

“This new funding follows our new designation by the National Cancer Institute as a comprehensive cancer center,” said Carlos L. Arteaga, MD, director of the Simmons Cancer Center, Lisa Emeritus Chair K. Simmons in Global Oncology. . “These strong demonstrations of support from the federal and state governments reinforce rigorous and promising work in cancer research and prevention. This will help underserved groups and advance cancer studies in some of the country’s most prestigious laboratories. “

Photo of Kalil Abdullah, MD, assistant professor of neurological surgery, received $ 1.5 million to continue his work on malignant brain tumors.

Kalil Abdullah, MD, assistant professor of neurological surgery, received $ 1.5 million to continue his work on malignant brain tumors.

David Gerber, MD, professor of internal medicine and population and data sciences and associate director of clinical research, received a $ 1.5 million grant to include more minorities in clinical trials. The project will reimburse 350 patients from underserved groups for their participation in the trials. Dr. Gerber expects the program to increase the number of registrations from under-represented minority groups. Demographics will be tracked to determine the characteristics of those enrolled and find possible solutions for more inclusive clinical trials.

The Moncrief Cancer Institute in Fort Worth received a $ 2 million grant to expand lung cancer screening and patient referral. The project will target approximately 85,000 eligible patients, providing opportunities to participate in comprehensive lung cancer screening, serving at least 1,200 patients with clinical navigation, screening and nurse-led follow-up care.

The project will include smoking cessation counseling and education while leveraging infrastructure and a county-friendly delivery model to ensure these prevention services reach communities disproportionately affected by cancer, including cancer patients. low income, uninsured or underinsured residing in rural and underserved northern counties. Texas.

Kalil Abdullah, MD, assistant professor of neurological surgery, received $ 1.5 million to continue his work on the most common type of malignant brain tumors, gliomas. These tumors depend on changes in cell metabolism to grow and spread throughout the brain. His research has shown that a drug that targets tumor metabolism can slow the growth of these tumors in human cells and in mice. With this award, Dr. Abdullah, researcher Eugene P. Frenkel, MD in clinical medicine, plans to continue to study the potential of this drug and design a clinical trial that treats patients with malignant gliomas.

Professors of biochemistry Uttam Tambar, Ph.D., and Bruce Posner, Ph.D., received a grant of $ 250,000 to explore a new drug discovery strategy for a wide range of cancer types that constitute a variant innovative of two existing approaches: high throughput screening of various drug-like chemical libraries and selective degradation of protein targets in cancer cells. They believe it is possible to develop a general approach for the high throughput discovery of a diverse library of chemicals that can degrade cancer protein targets. Their project offers a new platform to create anticancer protein degraders that can be integrated into existing large libraries of unbiased compounds in academia and industry. Dr Tambar, Bonnie Bell Harding Professor in Biochemistry, is co-lead of the Chemistry and Cancer Research program, and Dr Posner is director of the High Throughput Screening Shared Resource.

Jacques Lux, Ph.D., assistant professor of radiology, received a grant of $ 249,000 to treat metastatic cancer using ultrasound-guided immunotherapy assisted by microbubbles. The project aims to activate STING, the stimulator of interferon genes, and downstream pathways. This technology platform, called Microbubble Assisted Ultrasound Guided Cancer Immunotherapy (MUSIC), includes a clinically approved ultrasound microbubble contrast agent that Dr. Lux’s team has designed to transport cGAMP and specifically target immune cells. When applying ultrasound pulses with a clinical scanner, the microbubbles generate small transient pores on the cell surface and release cGAMP directly into the cells to activate STING and downstream pathways. If successful, the research will overcome a major technical hurdle in STING targeted immunotherapy and significantly advance its progress towards clinical translation.

About UT Southwestern Medical Center

UT Southwestern, one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution’s faculty has been awarded six Nobel Prizes and includes 25 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 16 members of the National Academy of Medicine and 14 researchers of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The full-time faculty of over 2,800 is responsible for revolutionary medical advancements and is committed to rapidly translating science-driven research into new clinical treatments. Doctors at UT Southwestern provide care in approximately 80 specialties to more than 117,000 inpatients, more than 360,000 emergency room cases and supervise nearly 3 million outpatient visits per year.


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