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American Cancer Society Grant Extended For Wistar Study Of Molecular Changes,,Leading To Cancer

Philadelphia -- Wistar scientist, George C. Prendergast, Ph.D., has been awarded a one-year extension on an American Cancer Society grant supporting his laboratory's research into the molecular changes that cause normal cells to become cancerous.

One aspect of Dr. Prenedergast's research focuses on a cancer-causing gene, called Myc, which has the ability to induce malignant cell growth. Six years ago, it was discovered that, under certain conditions, Myc can also cause cell suicide.

"This dual function," explains Dr. Prendergast, "means Myc may be a potential Achilles' heel in the tumor cell that harbors it. But to determine whether the killing aspects of Myc can be used for therapeutic interventions, it is first necessary for us to determine how Myc kills cells."

To gather this information, Dr. Prendergast and his research team are studying the molecules that seem to affect Myc's death signal, including a new gene product called Bin1. "Since Bin1 is frequently missing or altered in tumor cells," explains Dr. Prendergast, "it is possible that its absence may affect Myc's cell killing power."

To learn more about Bin1, Dr. Prendergast and his associates are examining its role in normal cells. They also are performing proof-of-concept experiments to determine whether malignant cells that lack Bin1 will die when Bin1 is reintroduced. Their findings are expected to provide a foundation for the design of new cancer treatments.

The American Cancer Society is the nationwide, community-based voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives and diminishing suffering through research, education, advocacy and service. Last year, the American Cancer Society contributed $93.3 million to research facilities throughout the country.

The Wistar Institute, established in 1892, was the first independent medical research facility in the country. For more than 100 years, Wista
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Contact: Diana Cutshall
dcutshall@wista.wistar.upenn.edu
(215) 898-3716
The Wistar Institute
20-May-1998


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