What is Prevention & Early Detection?
One of the best ways to reduce the number of patients dying from cancer is to prevent the disease from developing in the first place. That’s why researchers are investigating links between nutrition and cancer, as well as pre-cancerous conditions that could stop cancer from starting (known as chemoprevention).
Scientists are also working to improve early detection tools that are likely the most effective means to finding cures for many cancers.
NFCR Research Highlights
Dr. Robert Bast, who receives NFCR support, is best known for developing the OC125 (CA125) monoclonal antibody in 1981 that led to the production of the CA125 radioimmunoassay – the first useful biomarker for monitoring the course of patients with epithelial ovarian cancer. Since this discovery, Dr. Bast and his team have been evaluating ways CA125 and other biomarkers can be used together to screen for ovarian cancer.
Dr. James Basilion and his team at the NFCR Center for Molecular Imaging are developing new tools that can literally change the way doctors are looking at cancer. One newly-designed molecular probe allows researchers to view multiple molecular biomarkers simultaneously and see a tumor’s genetic structure in real time. This visualization allows for the very early detection of tiny tumors that will greatly improve treatment outcomes for many cancers.
NFCR-funded scientist Dr. Paul Schimmel recently showed how resveratrol – a natural ingredient found in foods including cacao and grape skins – may have potent preventative effects when combined with tRNA synthetase enzymes and a key protein – PARP-1.
Dr. Helmut Sies¸ whose work is funded by NFCR, discovered that the antioxidant lycopene, a micronutrient found in tomatoes and other foods can reduce the damaging effects of oxygen produced by our body’s essential metabolic processes. Lycopene has strong skin cancer prevention effects.
Dr. Michael Sporn, whose work was supported by NFCR, is known as the “Father of Chemoprevention” because much of his research has dealt with the development of new drugs that can be used as chemopreventive agents. Throughout his career, he has been involved in the synthesis of several hundred naturally-occurring molecules called triterpenoids. These molecules have potent preventative effects, including anti-inflammatory, anti-proliferative, pro-apoptotic (cellular suicide) and cytoprotective effects. The triterpenoids could be used as agents against several types of cancer, including breast, lung and pancreatic cancers. For individuals at especially high risk, the promising results of Dr. Sporn’s research offers hope that there could be new and safe drugs for cancer prevention.