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USC boasts two 2006 AACR award recipients

Two USC researchers are among the 11 recipients of the first ever Jeannik M. Littlefield-AACR Grants in Metastatic Colon Cancer Research from the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).

The University of Southern California was the only institution to have two award recipients from the international pool of 114 investigators.

The awards, of as much as $250,000, were established in February 2006 to support innovative research projects designed to accelerate the discovery and development of new agents to treat metastatic colon cancer. AACR is distributing a total of $2.64 million to the 11 awardees.

Robert D. Ladner, assistant professor of pathology, won an award for “Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors for the Treatment of Metastatic Colon Cancer,” which will explore new approaches to enhance the effectiveness of 5FU using histone de-acetylase inhibitors.

5FU is the major chemotherapy utilized in colon cancer treatment, and Ladner has been collaborating with USC researcher Heinz Josef Lenz, professor of medicine in the division of oncology, and others to establish ways to increase its effectiveness.

Nouri Neamati, assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences, won his award for “Preclinical Development of SC144 in Metastatic Colon Cancer.” A new agent, SC144 has been shown to cause up-regulation of IL24—a very potent anticancer protein. SC144 will be fully evaluated in mouse models before trials will be extended to humans. An expert in small-molecule drug design, Neamati said, “My dream is to see a successful testing of this drug in colon cancer patients. We are working very closely with Dr. Lenz, who has extensive expertise in clinical trials, on the translation of this drug and other related agents in patients.”

“Among the 114 applications submitted, these 11 awardees were judged to have the most merit,” said David Irwin, managing director of the Science and Education Division of the AACR.

“We offer our sincere congratulations to the investigators, and anticipate they will make substantial contributions to this field of cancer research,” he said.

The Jeannik M. Littlefield-AACR Grants in Metastatic Colon Cancer Research are sponsored by Jacques and Sandy Littlefield of Portola Valley, California, who donated $3 million to the AACR in late 2005. The grants are named for Mr. Littlefield’s mother.

USC boasts two 2006 AACR award recipients

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