DF/HCC Members Awarded New or Competitively Renewed Federal Funding

JULY 27, 2017 

The NIH continues to recognize DF/HCC as a leader in cancer research by awarding funding to a number of our research initiatives. Recently, this funding included the following new grants:

Reengineering Obesity-induced Abnormal Microenvironment to Improve PDAC Treatment
NCI - 1R01CA208205-01A1 – Research Project
PIs: Dai Fukumura, MD, PhD (MGH), Rakesh Jain, PhD (MGH)

Obesity associates with worse prognosis of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), but the mechanisms remain poorly understood. Obesity promotes inflammation and fibrosis in the pancreas, but whether this extends to the PDAC microenvironment to alter the biomechanical properties of the tumor and reduce drug effectiveness is unknown. This Bioengineering Research Grant Project will determine the effect of obesity on PDAC desmoplasia and mechanical properties, and develop and test new therapeutic approaches that reverse the abnormal PDAC biomechanics in obesity. The overall goal is to determine if targeting the physical microenvironment can enhance the efficacy of systemic treatment of PDAC in obese patients and improve the prognosis.

(PQ8) Genetically Faithful Murine Models for Studying Disease Progression in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
NCI - 1R01CA216273-01 – Research Project
PIs: Catherine Wu, MD (DFCI), Lili Wang, MD, PhD (DFCI)

Animal models that are generated from the expression of cancer genes provide an invaluable resource for understanding how cancers develop and progress; we propose to use our expertise in the genetic changes discovered in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), a slow growing B cell cancer that can become more and more aggressive over time, to develop mouse models that are reflective of human disease. Our task is accelerated by the availability of new techniques that enable us to rapidly modify genes so that we can systematically evaluate the role of a large number of gene mutations and their combinations on the development of leukemia in B cells. We aim to use these tools so that we can generate models that inform us of how CLL first develops and how it becomes more aggressive; availability of these new mouse models is expected to teach us about the critical steps in cancer development and progression and to provide a path towards the rational testing and use of novel therapeutics.

Molecular Genetics of HSV DNA Polymerase Gene
NIAID - 2R56AI019838-31 - High Priority, Short-Term Project Award
PI: Donald Coen, PhD (HMS), James Hogle, PhD (HMS)

Herpes simplex viruses (HSV) 1 and 2 cause widespread disease and human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) causes severe disease in people with impaired immunity, and is associated with a number of diseases in the immunocompetent population. There is considerable need for new drugs to combat HCMV, as current drugs have major limitations, and some HSV infections are difficult to treat, in part due to drug resistance. The research proposed should not only provide information that will aid in understanding the targets and mechanisms of currently approved antiviral drugs and resistance to them, but aims directly to discover new anti-herpesvirus drugs.

Comparative Effectiveness of Post-discharge Strategies for Hospitalized Smokers
NHLBI - 2R01HL111821-06 – Research Project
PIs: Nancy Rigotti, MD (MGH), Hilary Tindle, MD (Vanderbilt University Medical Center)

Cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S. Smoking cessation reduces risk and extends life expectancy. For the nearly 4 million smokers admitted to a hospital each year, being in the hospital is a good time to quit smoking because hospital policy does not allow patients to smoke. Smoking cessation treatment that starts in the hospital is effective as long as it continues after the smoker returns home. This project will test two practical strategies for continuing smoking cessation treatment after a hospital discharge. The results will help hospitals comply with new quality standards that require them to offer tobacco treatment to all hospitalized smokers.