Work with cancer-related proteins garners National Foundation for Cancer Research grant

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The National Foundation for Cancer Research has awarded new research funding to support work at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center to better understand the differences between two related proteins involved in tumor development as well as pain and inflammation.

The $300,000, three-year grant will support basic cancer research by Lawrence J. Marnett, Ph.D., in Vanderbilt-Ingram's A.B. Hancock Memorial Research Center to identify and examine functional biochemical differences between cyclooxygenase (COX) 1 and 2. COX-2 in particular appears to play an important role in cancer development and is expressed in many human tumors including lung, colon, breast, prostate, bladder, pancreas, and esophagus.

"The National Foundation for Cancer Research provides support for innovative and high risk research that has potential for the sorts of discoveries that push science into new areas," said Marnett, Mary Geddes Stahlman Professor of Cancer Research. Marnett is director of the Hancock center and associate director for basic science programs at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. "Funding for that type of work is often quite difficult to come by, so we are very appreciative of the National Foundation for Cancer Research's support."

The cyclooxygenases are the targets for aspirin and similar non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen. COX-1's job is to produce the prostaglandins that protect the stomach lining from irritation; COX-2 becomes active under specific conditions to produce prostaglandins that cause inflammation, pain and promote tumor development and growth. Because aspirin and NSAIDs target both COX-1 and COX-2, they often cause stomach irritation along with providing pain and inflammation relief.

New drugs that target only COX-2, without affecting COX-1, have recently been developed. They are initially being marketed as treatments for arthritis, but they are also being studied at Vanderbilt-Ingram for their

Contact: Cynthia Manley
Vanderbilt University Medical Center

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