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  • Posted: 11/06/2003

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NCI Awards $42 Million to Fund New Cancer Prevention Clinical Trials Consortium to Study Promising New Agents

The National Cancer Institute's Division of Cancer Prevention has created a new consortium of research centers to conduct early-phase cancer prevention clinical trials. Six institutions have been chosen to undertake these critical studies to assess the cancer preventive potential of new agents over the next three years. NCI has awarded over $42 million in contracts to fund the project.

The new consortium members and principal investigators are (alphabetical by state):
•  David Alberts, M.D., University of Arizona, Tucson, Ariz.;
•  Frank Meyskens, M.D., University of California-Irvine, Irvine, Calif.;
•  Raymond C. Bergan, M.D., Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill.;
•  Charles Loprinzi, M.D., Mayo Clinic Foundation, Rochester, Minn.;
•  Scott Lippman, M.D., University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas; and
•  Howard Bailey, M.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wis.

"Each of these institutions was selected based on its proven ability to conduct cancer prevention research," said Peter Greenwald, M.D., Dr. P.H., director of NCI's Division of Cancer Prevention. "We are looking forward to this next round of work on critical early-phase trials of new agents and their biological effects."

The consortium members will:

•    Design and conduct early-phase clinical trials to assess the cancer prevention potential of a variety of agents, many of which target specific molecules known to be expressed in precancerous conditions.

•    Characterize the effects of these agents on endpoints associated with cancer development (such as cell proliferation, apoptosis, growth factor expression, oncogene expression, and additional markers) and correlate these effects with clinical endpoints.

•    Develop scientific insights into the mechanisms of cancer prevention by assessing the clinical effects of these candidate agents, and by testing novel markers that may be used to determine response to the agents.

      Each consortium member will collaborate with a network of institutions to conduct these studies and to recruit study participants. The consortium members will design and implement numerous studies on agents that may play a role in preventing cancer. Among these agents are likely to be:

•    Cyclooxygenase (COX) inhibitors. COX is an enzyme produced by many precancerous tissues. Aspirin and celecoxib are agents that inhibit COX and have already been shown to prevent certain cancers, but other agents within this diverse class of compounds may also prevent disease.

•    Statins. Statins are drugs that block cholesterol production by inhibiting the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase and are commonly used as a treatment for heart disease. The enzyme HMG-CoA also regulates cell growth, so it is believed that statins may play a role in cancer prevention as well.

•    Tea Polyphenols. Compounds in tea leaves are natural plant antioxidants. Several cancer preventive properties have been suggested by observational studies of these compounds.

•    Soy Isoflavones. A group of compounds found in and isolated from the soybean, isoflavones function as antioxidants, and some produce hormonal and non-hormonal effects, all of which may result in cancer prevention.

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For more information about cancer, visit NCI's Web site at http://www.cancer.gov/.