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Quartet of NFCR scientists publishes papers in immediate succession

May 16, 2018

ROCKVILLE, MD - A trio of papers co-authored by four National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR) scientists has been published this week in highly-cited and respected journals. Each acknowledges NFCR support as having helped make the works possible.

Rakesh K. Jain, Ph.D., and colleagues detail new knowledge on the interaction of brain cancers, blood vessels and tumor microenvironments, specifically a mechanism by which gliomas resist anti-angiogenesis drugs. The discoveries offer additional insight into why glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the deadliest form of brain cancer, has to-date remained so notoriously difficult to treat, while too potentially paving the way for future therapeutic approaches that account for these findings.

"I had presented some exciting data on vessel cooption in glioblastoma multiforme at the NFCR scientific symposium in August 2017," stated Jain, an NFCR fellow. "Our paper based on that work--supported by the Foundation--has now been published in Cancer Cell."

The article appears in the journal's issue dated May 14th--Monday.

Another paper specific to gliomas, both of whose corresponding authors, Webster K. Cavenee, Ph.D., and Paul B. Fisher, Ph.D., are closely associated with NFCR, too was published on Monday. Availed online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, it identifies a connection between various cellular mechanisms associated with cancer and MDA-9/Syntenin, a gene previously discovered by Dr. Fisher, an NFCR fellow.

These findings are explicitly pertinent to better understanding and combating GBM, a cancer on which Dr. Cavenee, NFCR's scientific advisory board chairman, is an authority.

"We have effectively identified a potential Achilles' heel of glioblastoma multiforme that may allow exploitation to uncover enhanced therapies with improved prognosis," summarized Fisher. "In these contexts, MDA-9/Syntenin may provide a viable and effective therapeutic strategy for GBM."

Lastly, Paul Schimmel, Ph.D., co-authored a paper published online today in Nature which advances understanding of mistranslation--errors in the interpretation of genetic information. Dr. Schimmel, an NFCR fellow, is one of the world's leading experts in the field. The mouse model findings outlined in the article, while pertinent well beyond only cancer research, offer new insight into somatic mutations. These, according to the National Cancer Institute's dictionary of cancer terms, are described as such:

an alteration in DNA that occurs after conception. Somatic mutations can occur in any of the cells of the body except the germ cells (sperm and egg) and therefore are not passed on to children. These alterations can (but do not always) cause cancer or other diseases.

"Although a cancer investigation was not pursued in this paper," noted Schimmel, speaking of the Nature piece, "I believe mistranslation can be a course of somatic mutations that lead to cancers."
Dr. Jain is Andrew Werk Cook Professor of Tumor Biology at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Edwin L. Steele Laboratory for Tumor Biology at Massachusetts General Hospital. He is one of only 21 persons to be elected to the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, and too is a member of the National Academy of Inventors. Dr. Jain was awarded the National Medal of Science by President Barack Obama in 2016 and holds numerous patents in the field of medicine.

Dr. Cavenee is Director of Strategic Alliances in Central Nervous Systems for Ludwig Cancer Research and Distinguished Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego. He is a member of both the National Academies of Sciences and Medicine, and was the recipient of the 2007 Szent-Györgyi Prize for Progress in Cancer Research and the 2016 Feldman Founder's Award for Adult Brain Tumor Research from the National Brain Tumor Society. Dr. Cavenee has been President of the American Association for Cancer Research and has published over 380 scientific papers.

Dr. Fisher is Chairman of Virginia Commonwealth University's (VCU's) Department of Human and Molecular Genetics, Founding Director of the VCU Institute of Molecular Medicine and holder of the Thelma Newmeyer Corman Chair in Cancer Research at the VCU Massey Cancer Center. He too serves as an Emeritus Professor at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons. Dr. Fisher was selected as Virginia Outstanding Scientist of 2014, a competitive award presented by Governor Terry McAuliffe, is a member of the National Academy of Inventors and has over 55 patents issued in his name.

Dr. Schimmel is Ernest and Jean Hahn Professor at the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology within the Scripps Research Institute. He has been elected to the National Academies of Sciences and Inventors, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Philosophical Society and Institute of Medicine. Dr. Schimmel is the author or co-author of more than 400 scientific papers and a widely-used three-volume textbook on biophysical chemistry. He too holds several patents and has founded and/or served as an original board of director member of at least 11 biopharmaceutical companies.

About the National Foundation for Cancer Research

The National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides scientists in the lab the funding they need to make game-changing discoveries in cancer treatments, detection, prevention and, ultimately, a cure. It has distinguished itself in the cancer sector by emphasizing long-term, transformative research often overlooked by other major capital sources. With the help of more than 5.3 million individual donors over the last 45 years, NFCR has delivered more than $360 million in financial support to public education and cancer research leading to several important, life-saving discoveries. For more information, visit

National Foundation for Cancer Research

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