CONTACT: ARIANNE NARDO
8788 John Pappajohn Pavilion
Iowa City IA 52242
UI Cancer Center researchers receive grant to study
brain cancer treatment
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Medical researchers at the University
of Iowa Cancer Center have received a $161,000 grant from the American Institute
of Cancer Research to study a process that may advance the treatment of patients
diagnosed with brain cancer.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids are found naturally in
certain foods and vitamins. Brain cancer cells appear to contain lower amounts
of these fatty acids than do normal brain cells. In addition, these tumor
cells are low in antioxidant enzymes, which are needed to scavenge potentially
damaging free radicals. This suggests that brain tumor cells would be susceptible
to forms of therapy that increased free radical production.
During the course of the two-year AICR grant, principal
investigator Mike Robbins, Ph.D., UI associate professor of radiology and
director of research in the departments Free Radical and Radiation Biology
Program (FRRBP), and Rick Domann, Ph.D., UI associate professor of radiology
and a FRBBP researcher, will examine how polyunsaturated fatty acids can selectively
increase the antioxidant enzyme catalase in normal brain cells but not in
brain tumor cells.
"Weve found that increasing the amount
of polyunsaturated fatty acids and free radical production in brain cancer
cells is damaging to the cancer cells," Robbins said. "Were
looking to stop the growth of glioma (brain tumor) cells and sensitize them
to other forms of anticancer therapy, such as radiation, while protecting
the normal brain cells from damage."
He added that combining this new treatment approach
with currently available options, including surgery, radiation therapy and
chemotherapy, could improve outcomes for patients diagnosed with brain tumors.
Robbins research efforts began in 1993 after he received
a UI Cancer Center Seed Grant.
University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership
between the UI College of Medicine and the UI Hospitals and Clinics and the
patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide.