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Scripps Research Wins More than $2 Million to Study Prostate Cancer

Scripps Florida and Moffitt Cancer Center Scientists Collaborate to Better Understand Cancer's Progression

JUPITER, FL, April 26, 2011 – The Scripps Research Institute and Tampa's Moffitt Cancer Center have been awarded more than $2 million to study the formation and progression of prostate cancer. Of the funds awarded, approximately $1.9 million will go to Scripps Research, with the remaining $138,380 supporting Moffitt Cancer Center work.

The five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will fund research to advance the development of novel therapeutic strategies for prostate cancer treatment and prevention.

"This new funding will help us continue our work into the origins of prostate cancer and the role that inflammation plays in its development," said Jun-Li Luo, PhD, an assistant professor on the Florida campus of Scripps Research and principal investigator for the new study. "We are pleased that Moffitt, one of the country's leading treatment and research centers, will be our partner in this research. Gaining a better understanding of the inflammatory process should help lay the foundation for developing novel therapeutic strategies for this disease."

"This collaboration with Scripps Florida is a great opportunity to help uncover the underlying mechanisms of prostate cancer," said Shohreh Dickinson, MD, an assistant professor at Moffitt, where scientists will study and interpret pathology slides of human cells as part of the new study. "It's also a great opportunity for two Florida research centers to advance the science that, hopefully, will one day help put an end to this terrible disease."

Prostate cancer—which, according to the American Cancer Society, will affect one in six American men in their lifetime—is the second-leading cause of death after lung cancer in American men. Prostate cancer is driven by androgen, the male sex hormone, and androgen deprivation is considered a first-line treatment of the disease once it spreads beyond the prostate gland.

Eventually, all prostate cancer becomes resistant to the treatment, and the disease grows independently of androgen. This can occur almost anytime during treatment. Currently there are no effective treatments for what is known as hormone-refractory prostate cancer.

Luo's work has long been focused on the role of inflammation in cancer and the body's innate inflammatory response, which encourages tumor growth. In earlier studies, he found that blocking one of the factors involved in inflammation—the nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB)—dramatically impaired development of the disease. In addition, Luo has identified tumor-infiltrating B cells as another critical component of the inflammatory response that enhances androgen-independent tumor growth.

The new study will further define how B cells control the spread of hormone refractory cancer.

About The Scripps Research Institute

The Scripps Research Institute is one of the world's largest independent, non-profit biomedical research organizations. Scripps Research is internationally recognized for its discoveries in immunology, molecular and cellular biology, chemistry, neuroscience, and vaccine development, as well as for its insights into autoimmune, cardiovascular, and infectious disease. Headquartered in La Jolla, California, the institute also includes a campus in Jupiter, Florida, where scientists focus on drug discovery and technology development in addition to basic biomedical science. Scripps Research currently employs about 3,000 scientists, staff, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students on its two campuses. The institute's graduate program, which awards PhD degrees in biology and chemistry, is ranked among the top ten such programs in the nation. For more information, see www.scripps.edu.

About Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute

The Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute began its research efforts in 1993 and by 1998 achieved National Cancer Institute (NCI) designation. Today, research at Moffitt includes more than 135 investigators organized around six scientific programs, all with an emphasis on translational science. In October 2006, the NCI renewed Moffitt's Comprehensive Cancer Center status and its Cancer Center Support Grant for five years.

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