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2019 Archive

Scientists home in on microRNA processing for novel cancer therapies

More than a decade of research on the mda-7/IL-24 gene has shown that it helps to suppress a majority of cancer types, and now scientists are focusing on how the gene drives this process by influencing microRNAs. Published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the findings could potentially have implications beyond cancer for a variety of cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases caused by the same microRNA-driven processes.  

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Cowart studies lipids linked to obesity-related disease and bolsters Massey lipidomics resource core with $800,000 instrument

L. Ashley Cowart, Ph.D., studies a specific class of lipids known as sphingolipids and the role that they play in obesity-related diseases, including cancer, as a means to inform novel treatment approaches. Cowart joined VCU Massey Cancer Center as the new director of the VCU Lipidomics/ Metabolomics Shared Resource Core (VLMC) and a member of the Cancer Cell Signaling research program in 2018. She is also a professor in biochemistry and molecular biology at the VCU School of Medicine and holds an appointment as a research health scientist at the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center.

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Massey researchers awarded $1.1M to investigate treatment options for nerve damage caused by chemotherapy

Researchers at VCU Massey Cancer Center were awarded more than $1.1 million to investigate alternative treatment options for cancer patients with nerve damage, a debilitating side effect caused by chemotherapy. M. Imad Damaj, Ph.D., member of the Cancer Prevention and Control research program at Massey, and David A. Gewirtz, Ph.D., member of Massey’s Developmental Therapeutics research program, received a four-year R01 grant from the National Cancer Institute to conduct research as a means to inform novel therapies that can prevent or suppress nerve damage triggered by paclitaxel.

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From adenocarcinoma to advocacy, the Talleys show together is stronger

“I didn’t even realize I had stopped breathing,” Amie-Anne Talley said. “My ears were burning and my heart felt like it was going to pound out of my chest. What were we going to do? I felt like my world was falling apart.” Amie-Anne’s husband, Bill, had just given her the results of his colonoscopy. There was a mass, and it was almost completely blocking his bowel. All signs pointed to cancer. Nobody wants to hear this news, but this felt like an incomprehensible blow. They are parents to three young children, and, at the time, Bill was just 36 years old.

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Massey expert provides insight on pancreatic cancer

In light of longtime “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek’s recent diagnosis with pancreatic cancer, VCU News talked with Brian Kaplan, M.D., to learn more about risk factors, symptoms and treatment options for the disease. Kaplan is director of the VCU Massey Cancer Center’s Pancreas and Biliary Neoplasm Program, a member of the Developmental Therapeutics research program at Massey and a professor in the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine’s Department of Surgery.

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