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Wistar Scientist Awarded US Army Prostate Cancer Research Program Grant

Philadelphia -- George C. Prendergast, Ph.D., a scientist in The Wistar Institute's Molecular Genetics Program, has been awarded a $491,000 US Army Prostate Cancer Research Program grant for research into a possible new diagnostic and prognostic marker for prostate cancer.

An intriguing set of data accumulated in Dr. Prendergast's laboratory suggests that a new prostate cancer suppressor gene, called Bin1, may accumulate in aggressive malignant cells but not in non-threatening or normal prostate cells. "If that is true," explains Dr. Prendergast, "Bin1 could be a molecular marker that identifies aggressive cancers of the prostate and makes it possible to predict the risk of each prostate cancer patient."

Bin1 was discovered because of its ability to interact with and inhibit the transforming potential of Myc, a cancer causing protein that is often activated in a wide variety of human cancers, including prostate carcinoma. Myc is of particular interest because it not only promotes malignant cell growth, but also, under certain conditions, can activate cell suicide.

"We identified Bin1 as part of an effort to learn how this Myc 'booby trap' might be sprung in cancer cells to kill them," says Dr. Prendergast. "Our recent results support our hypothesis that Bin1 controls Myc's killing activity."

The Wistar Institute, established in 1892, was the first independent medical research facility in the country. For more than 100 years, Wistar scientists have been making history and improving world health through their development of vaccines for diseases that include rabies, German measles, infantile gastroenteritis (rotavirus), and cytomegalovirus; discovery of molecules like interleukin-12, which are helping the immune system fight bacteria, parasites, viruses and cancer; and location of genes that contribute to the development of diseases like breast, lung and prostate cancer. Wistar is a National Cancer Institute Cancer Center.


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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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