Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas Awards Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Grants

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) researchers were awarded more than $1.5 million in grants from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT). The funds were awarded to support new scientific research projects and recruits to help fight cancer in Texas.

TTUHSC researchers who received the grants are Min Kang, Pharm.D., associate professor in the Department of Cell Biology and Biochemistry and Kalkunte S. Srivenugopal, Ph.D., associate professor in the School of Pharmacy.

“This is wonderful news for TTUHSC since these grants are so competitive,” said Doug Stocco, TTUHSC executive vice president for research. “Drs. Kang and Srivenugopal deserve all of the credit in the world by demonstrating their research programs are functioning at a statewide and nationally competitive level.”

Kang received $821,051 for her research, Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacogenomics of 13-Cisretinoic Acid in Treatment Outcome of COG Phase III Neuroblastoma Trials. A drug derived from vitamin A called isotretinoin is being used to treat neuroblastoma or pediatric cancer.

Although the drug can cause cancer cells to change to non-growing, non-cancerous cells, such a response requires high drug levels. Some patients have low drug levels due to child drug administration methods or genetic factors. Kang will study neuroblastoma patients who are enrolled in national Children’s Oncology Group clinical studies of isotretinoin to identify various factors that affect blood levels of the drug so that future clinical trials can optimize the dosing of isotretinoin for children with neuroblastoma.

Srivenugopal, received $777,268 for his research, Rational Redox-Driven Non-Toxic Therapeutic Strategies for Pediatric Brain Cancers. Brain tumors rank second in frequency and cause of death among pediatric cancer patients and are amongst the most challenging to treat.

The goal of Srivenugopal’s research project, funded in association with the Carson Leslie Foundation, is to design novel and non-invasive therapeutic strategies to make a strong impact on the management of pediatric brain cancers. He will test the feasibility of a new DNA repair inhibitor in preclinical and clinical models to improve brain tumor chemotherapy and also design methods to deliver drugs directly to the brain through nasal inhalation to avoid bone marrow toxicity.

Texas voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2007 establishing CPRIT and authorizing the state to issue $3 billion in bonds to fund groundbreaking cancer research and prevention programs and services in Texas. CPRIT’s goal is to expedite innovation and commercialization in the area of cancer research and to enhance access to evidence-based prevention programs and services throughout the state.

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