• Minnesota Partnership Awards Ovarian and Brain Cancer, TB Research Grants

MINNEAPOLIS — Ovarian and brain cancer, tuberculosis, imaging for Alzheimer's disease and new approaches to treating glaucoma are the serious medical problems that five partnering teams from Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota will focus on over the next two years, thanks to grants from the Minnesota Partnership for Biotechnology and Medical Genomics. Combined, the state-funded awards total just over $3.5 million.

The ovarian cancer project will focus on an enzyme related to many cancer-causing mutations. Researchers will work to develop antibodies to the enzyme and then try to use them to kill tumor cells.

Another team will tackle the increasing problem of drug-resistant tuberculosis. They've already identified two small molecules that interfere with the metabolism of the tuberculosis bacteria and plan to test them in a novel approach to stopping the resistant strains. If successful, the researchers believe this new approach could eradicate tuberculosis.

Glioblastoma multiforme is one of the most aggressive and deadly brain cancers. Researchers synthesized and tested more than 250 compounds over three years to find several small molecules that can inhibit key functions of tumor cells, specifically the transfer of lactic acid. They hope to use these molecules to force toxic buildup to kill the cells.

Another team will combine strengths in magnetic resonance spectroscopy, or MRS, to test its sensitivity and practical use to find early chemical changes in the brain — early signs of Alzheimer's disease. Early Alzheimer's prediction means more effective treatment.

Glaucoma is one of the most common eye diseases; it affects more than 60 million people worldwide. But the only cause that clinicians can currently control is intraocular pressure — inside the eyeball. Researchers have found ways to lower the pressure by controlling the flow through certain channels in membranes in mice. They want to take next steps to lay the foundation for testing this concept in clinical trials.

Projects and Investigators

Diagnosis and Tailored Treatment of APOBEC-Activated Ovarian Cancer – $912,585
Reuben Harris, Ph.D., University of Minnesota
Scott Kaufmann, M.D., Ph.D., Mayo Clinic.

Functional Metabolomic Approach to Eradicate Tuberculosis – $617,486
Anthony Baughn, Ph.D., University of Minnesota
Nicholas Chia, Ph.D., Mayo Clinic

Development of Novel Drugs for the Treatment of Gliomas – $635,626
Lester Drewes, Ph.D., and Venkatram Mereddy, Ph.D., University of Minnesota Duluth
Aaron Johnson, Ph.D., Mayo Clinic.

Partnership for Early Detection of Alzheimer's Disease Using Advanced MR Technology – $775,577 Gulin Oz, Ph.D., and Lynn Eberly, Ph.D., University of Minnesota Kejal Kantarci, M.D., Mayo Clinic.

Novel Therapeutic Agents for the Treatment of Glaucoma – $573,537
Michael Fautsch, Ph.D., Mayo Clinic
Peter Dosa, Ph.D., University of Minnesota.

The Minnesota Partnership for Biotechnology and Medical Genomics is a collaboration among the University of Minnesota, Mayo Clinic and the state of Minnesota.

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