Virginia Commonwealth University

VCU Massey Cancer Center

Promising new cancer therapy uses molecular “Trash Man” to exploit a common cancer defense

While many scientists are trying to prevent the onset of a cancer defense mechanism known as autophagy, researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center are leveraging it in a new therapy that causes the process to culminate in cell death rather than survival. The novel treatment strategy targets the p62 protein, which is often referred to as the “Trash Man” due to its role in disposing unwanted cellular proteins during autophagy. Results from preclinical experiments suggest this experimental treatment approach could be particularly effective against multiple myeloma and potentially other forms of blood cancers.

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Scientists in Switzerland

In July, VCU Massey Cancer Center scientists traveled to Hermance, Switzerland, to lead discussions at the Brocher Foundation Symposium titled, “Recent developments in phase 1 oncology trials: Implications for ethics, palliative care and society.” The symposium brought together researchers, oncologists, ethicists and palliative care specialists from all over the world, including the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Spain and the United States, to examine phase 1 clinical trials in cancer.

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VCU Massey Cancer Center receives $4.4 million NCI grant to support a statewide cancer clinical trials network, foster minority access to trials and focus research on cancer disparities

VCU Massey Cancer Center was awarded a $4.4 million, 5-year, renewable grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to support a statewide network for cancer clinical research in Virginia that brings state-of-the-art clinical trials to patients in their own communities and emphasizes the inclusion of minorities in clinical trials and a focus on research that addresses cancer disparities. Massey is one of only 12 institutions in the nation to receive this type of grant that fosters access to cancer research for minority and medically underserved patients.  

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Massey researchers Steven Grant and Paul B. Fisher appointed to Cancer Research editorial board

VCU Massey Cancer Center researchers Steven Grant, M.D., and Paul B. Fisher, M.Ph., Ph.D., were recently recognized with an appointment by the most highly cited cancer journal in the world. Grant and Fisher were appointed to serve as members of the editorial board for Cancer Research, an American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) publication and the top scientific journal for articles of the broadest significance in the cancer research field.

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Protein found to block benefits of vitamin A cancer therapy

Retinoic acid is a form of vitamin A that is used to treat and help prevent the recurrence of a variety of cancers, but for some patients the drug is not effective. The reason for this resistance was unclear until this week when researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center demonstrated that a protein known as AEG-1 blocks the effects of retinoic acid in leukemia and liver cancer. Because AEG-1 is overexpressed in nearly every cancer, these findings could impact the care of countless cancer patients.

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