May 2, 2007

UAMS Cancer Researchers Awarded Two National Komen Grants Totaling $600,000

LITTLE ROCK – Husband and wife researchers at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) have received national grants totaling $600,000 from Susan G. Komen for the Cure, formerly the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.


 


Fred Kadlubar, Ph.D., and Susan Kadlubar, Ph.D., each were awarded $300,000 grants for individual studies of breast cancer treatments. Fred Kadlubar is chairman of the Department of Epidemiology at the UAMS College of Public Health and director of research at the UAMS Arkansas Cancer Research Center (ACRC).


 


Susan Kadlubar is assistant professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at the UAMS College of Public Health.


 


Fred Kadlubar’s three-year grant will fund a study of Tamoxifen, a commonly prescribed breast cancer medication used to slow or stop the growth of cancer cells. Tamoxifen also is used to prevent the recurrence of breast cancer, to help prevent new cancer in the opposite breast and to reduce the risk of breast cancer in women with a high risk of developing the disease.


 


“Studies have shown that some patients respond to Tamoxifen treatment better than others,” Fred Kadlubar said. “The rate at which an enzyme in the body called SULT1A1 metabolizes drugs seems to have an effect on the survival rate of patients taking Tamoxifen. Those who metabolize the drug more quickly seem to have a more favorable result than those who metabolize it more slowly.”


 


Fred Kadlubar’s study will examine the level of this enzyme in tumors from breast cancer patients who received Tamoxifen and experienced a recurrence of cancer compared to patients who received Tamoxifen and did not have a recurrence.


 


“The project will provide new information concerning the genetic profile of patients for whom treatment with Tamoxifen successfully prevented a recurrence,” he said.


 


Susan Kadlubar’s two-year grant will fund a study of genetic variations in the body’s enzyme known as UCP2 and its response to one of the most common chemotherapy treatments used for breast cancer.


 


“Chemotherapy for the treatment of breast cancer can influence survival for many patients. However, chemotherapy acts on all cells in the body, not just tumor cells, and can cause many painful side effects,” said Susan Kadlubar.


 


When cells are exposed to chemotherapy, the amount of UCP2 is dramatically increased to help the cells survive, a feature that could potentially lead to drug resistance in tumor cells. “This study will add to the body of information available to oncologists as they select therapies tailored to each patient’s individual biochemistry,” she said.


 


UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with five colleges, a graduate school, a medical center, six centers of excellence and a statewide network of regional centers. UAMS has about 2,430 students and 715 medical residents. It is one of the state’s largest public employers with about 9,400 employees, including nearly 1,000 physicians who provide medical care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS’ Area Health Education Centers throughout the state. UAMS and its affiliates have an economic impact in Arkansas of $5 billion a year. For more information, visit www.uams.edu.