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Five-Year Grant/Study of Colon and NSCLC Cancer Cells


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http://uscnews.usc.edu/health/newton_ta ... earch.html


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Paul K. Newton, a USC specialist in applied mathematics, will participate in a new physics oncology center, working with scientists at the Scripps Research Institute and other institutions.

The National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health today announced a five-year grant to create the Physical Science-Oncology Center based at USC.

Andrew J. Viterbi, a National Medal of Science winner, a pioneer in digital communications and the namesake of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, will be an adviser to the center.

Research at the center, which will be led by Scripps Research, will aim to achieve a better understanding of the behavior of cancer cells during metastasis - the spread of cancer from a primary tumor to other sites throughout the body. This understanding is directly aimed at determining more effective methods to manage cancer.

Newton has appointments in USC Viterbi’s Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering and the USC College Department of Mathematics. He specializes in using tools and concepts from nonlinear dynamical systems theory applied to fluid dynamics and other problems in mechanics.

His concept of embedded dynamical systems will be used in the modeling and simulation of individual and swarms of metastasizing cancer cells as they circulate through the human vascular system.

“We are excited by the award,” said Scripps Research professor Peter Kuhn, the principal investigator of the grant. “We hope that by uniting an outstanding translational team of scientists and clinicians in different specialties, we can make rapid headway in filling in the large gaps in our knowledge about the behavior of cancer cells that circulate in the bloodstream. We hope this information will ultimately help clinicians determine who should be receiving aggressive treatments and who should not, as well as laying the groundwork for the development of novel therapeutic approaches.”

The grant was awarded under the first round of funding from a new signature initiative of the National Cancer Institute. The initiative, conceptualized last year in a series of think tank meetings in Washington, D.C., creates a series of 12 Physical Sciences-Oncology Centers whose aim is to advance the understanding of the physical laws and principles that shape and govern the emergence and behavior of cancer.

The Scripps Research-led consortium is dubbed the “4DB Center” after the project’s full name, “Focusing on Four-Dimensional Heterogeneity of Fluid Phase Biopsies in Cancer.” The project brings together oncologists and pathologists at the Scripps Clinic, the Moores Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego, and Billings Clinic (Montana) with physicists and biologists the at Scripps Research Institute and biomedical engineers at Oregon Health and Sciences University, in addition to USC.

Together, the team hopes to generate a comprehensive portrait of cancer cells, including their numbers, physical properties and gene expression profiles, as they act through space (in the patients’ body), as well as time, over the course of the disease’s progression.

The researchers will track two types of cancer cells: those from patients with colon cancer, which characteristically shows a slow clinical course, and those from patients with non-small cell lung cancer, which typically shows a more aggressive and rapid clinical course with greater differences in disease progression among individuals.

This will be the first time that such a study has been conducted. Until recently, the technology was not available to make these types of observations about cancer cells without frequent biopsies from patients.

Advances in the field, however, now make it possible to analyze information from circulating tumor cells from simple blood samples collected from patients. Newton will lead the 4DB effort in physical and predictive modeling with his group of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers based at USC Viterbi.

“Working directly with blood samples from cancer patients provides a direct link to the bedside,” Kuhn said. “There is a rather long and depressing list of anti-cancer therapeutics that were tremendously successful in animal models, but that failed to exhibit activity against cancer when tested in humans. Our ability to work with human blood samples should increase the relevance of our findings to those in need.”

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(University of Southern California Education/Health News, Article by Eric Mankin, October 27, 2009)


The information contained in these articles may or may not be in agreement with my own opinions. They are not being posted with the intention of being medical advice of any kind.

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