Roswell Park wins $10.2 million for photodynamic therapy research for cancer treatment

FEBRUARY 25, 2009--The National Cancer Institute has awarded a $10.2 million grant to Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI; Buffalo, NY) to support photodynamic therapy (PDT) research. The grant covers projects that aim to optimize PDT for treatment of various types of cancer including skin cancer, and cancer of the head and neck. RPCI's PDT approach uses a photosensitizing drug that collects in cancerous tumors and kills cancer cells when activated by red laser light.

FEBRUARY 25, 2009--The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has awarded a five-year, $10.2 million grant to Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI; Buffalo, NY) to support work in photodynamic therapy (PDT) for treatment of various cancer types i ncluding skin cancer and head and neck cancers. RPCI was a pioneer of PDT. Its approach uses red laser light to excite a photosensitizing drug that collects in tumor cells. When activated by the laser, the drug kills the cancer cells.

RPCI has received uninterrupted NCI funding for its PDT program since 1992. This program project grant, led by principal investigator Barbara Henderson, PhD, Professor of Oncology and Director of the PDT Center, Department of Cell Stress Biology, explores mechanisms and strategies for making PDT more effective in treating cancer. "Roswell Park has a long-standing bench-to-bedside approach to PDT that facilitates an understanding of the underlying mechanisms of the process while translating that knowledge into novel treatments," she said.

The program consists of five projects, supported by four technical, statistical, and administrative core units:

1. Development of novel agents for optimization of PDT and tumor imaging by Ravindra Pandey, PhD, Distinguished Member, PDT Center.

2. Exploration of molecular pathways for optimizing PDT by Heinz Baumann, PhD, Professor of Oncology, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology.

3. Examination of how PDT can affect mechanisms of tumor immunology by Sandra Gollnick, PhD, Professor of Oncology, PDT Center.

4. Investigation of PDT mechanisms in patients being treated for skin cancer by Nathalie Zeitouni, MD, Interim Chair, Department of Dermatology, will.

5. Clinical trials using PDT for the treatment of early-stage cancer of the head and neck by Nestor Rigual, MD, Associate Professor of Oncology and Attending Surgeon, Department of Head & Neck Surgery; and Merrill Biel, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, University of Minnesota.

"NCI program project grants are highly sought by cancer centers. Receipt of this NCI grant demonstrates the cutting edge science in this pioneering Roswell Park research program," said RPCI President & CEO Donald L. Trump, MD, FACP. "This grant continues support of a broad-based, multidisciplinary team approach to PDT cancer research and discovery at RPCI."

Roswell Park Cancer Institute, founded in 1898, is the nation's first cancer research, treatment and education center. It was one of the first cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center. The institute is a member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of the nation's leading cancer centers; maintains affiliate sites; and is a partner in national and international collaborative programs.

More information:
Visit RPCI's website.

Posted by Barbara G. Goode,, for BioOptics World.

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