CIT grants support EVMS research in diabetes and cancer

Story Date: Mon, 30 Jun 2014 08:19:00 EDT

Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) has provided funding for a pair of EVMS research initiatives – one involving diabetes and the other cancer.

Valued at $100,000 each, the EVMS grants are among 38 awards totaling nearly $3 million that support areas of research with commercial promise. Twenty-seven organizations from academic and industry received support through the CIT’s Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund.

The first EVMS project involves work by Jerry Nadler, MD, Vice Dean of Research and the Harry H. Mansbach Chair in Internal Medicine. His research team is focused on the development of selective “12-Lipoxygenase inhibitors” for Type 1 diabetes.

In Type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system attacks beta cells, which produce insulin. As a result, people with Type 1 disease must inject insulin to stay alive.

Dr. Nadler’s lab is focused on an enzyme known as 12-Lipoxygenase, which has been associated with inflammation that is a cause of diabetes and heart disease. By inhibiting or blocking 12-lipoxygenase, Dr. Nadler hopes to protect the insulin-producing beta cells from the body’s marauding immune cells and stop diabetes.

“Our lab is excited about developing these new medications, since the target so far appears to be promising and safe,” says Dr. Nadler, emphasizing that the research represents a collaboration among several departments.

Amy Tang, PhD, Associate Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Cell Biology at EVMS, is overseeing the breast-cancer research study, “Development and Commercialization of a New, Sensitive and Chemo-Responsive Anti-SIAH-Based Monoclonal Antibody Detection Kit to Determine and Quantify the Efficacy of Chemotherapies in Real Time for Virginia Breast Cancer Patients with Metastatic Diseases.”

“No two breast cancers are the same,” says Dr. Tang, who came to the EVMS Leroy T. Canoles Cancer Jr. Research Center in 2010 from the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine. By studying a tumor’s response to chemotherapy on a cellular level, Dr. Tang’s research is focused on helping physicians identify the most effective chemotherapy for every patient who has metastatic breast cancer.

Sentara Cancer Network is a partner in the breast-cancer research study, which involves about 200 patients. Assistance has been provided by Richard Hoefer Jr., DO, Medical Director of Development for the network.

Each research proposal submitted to the CIT went through a four-step review process that included a review by subject matter experts from industry, academic and government. The Research and Technology Investment Advisory Committee then recommended proposals to be funded to CIT’s Board of Directors, which selected the awards.

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