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Improving the Delivery and Efficacy of Anti-Cancer Therapeutics


In honor of National Medical Laboratory Professional Week, we’d like to highlight a few of the many accomplishments of NFCR-funded scientist, Dr. Rakesh Jain.

About Dr. Rakesh Jain

Rakesh K. Jain, Ph.D., Andrew Werk Cook professor of tumor biology (radiation oncology) at Harvard Medical School and director of the Edwin L. Steele Laboratory for Tumor Biology in the radiation oncology department of Massachusetts General Hospital, is a leader in the field of tumor biology – specifically in anti-angiogenic therapy, which looks at thwarting certain types of blood vessel formation.

Dr. Jain’s groundbreaking research represents a paradigm shift for the field of anti-angiogenesis therapy. He demonstrated that anti-angiogenic therapy can normalize the abnormal, leaky blood vessels that usually surround and penetrate tumors and that this therapy improves the delivery of chemotherapy drugs, increases the oxygen content of cancer cells and makes radiation treatments more effective.
Angiogenesis is the formation of new blood vessels and plays a critical role in the growth and spread of cancer.

 

His work has also uncovered that the patients whose tumor blood flow increased in response to anti-angiogenesis therapy survived longer. Normalizing abnormal blood flow (known as vascular normalization) offers unprecedented opportunities to improve the treatment of cancer and various vascular disorders, including age-related macular degeneration—a leading cause of blindness.

Attacking the Deadliest Brain Cancer

Most recently, Dr. Jain has been studying the role angiogenesis plays in glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the deadliest form of brain cancer. Dr. Jain’s research is helping doctors better tailor the use of anti-angiogenic therapies by identifying the characteristics that cause resistance to anti-angiogenic therapy for GBM patients. Dr. Jain and his team have identified molecular resistance pathways that may direct the development of new drugs that target these pathways and could extend the benefits of anti-angiogenic therapies for patients.

Because GBM invades healthy tissues near the tumor, Dr. Jain is currently testing inhibitors that could prevent invasion. Vessel co-option is a process by which cancer cells migrate through and around nearby healthy tissue.  Dr. Jain is identifying genes and pathways that facilitate vessel co-option in order to prevent invasion and improve GBM therapies.

Elected to All 3 Branches of the National Academies

Dr. Jain has helped advance cancer care to where it is today. For his contributions, he was elected to all three National Academies—the National Academy of Medicine, the National Academy of Engineering, and the National Academy of Sciences, and has received more than 60 awards and honors, including the National Medal of Science from President Barak Obama. NFCR is proud to have funded Dr. Jain’s research since 1988.  Because of your generosity, we can continue to fund Dr. Jain’s groundbreaking work today.

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