Sanford Burnham Prebys researchers awarded Curebound Discovery grants

| Written by Miles Martin
Aninyda Bagchi, Ph.D., and Lukas Chavez, Ph.D., Nicholas Cosford, Ph.D., Michael Jackson, Ph.D.

Each year, Sanford Burnham Prebys joins Padres Pedal the Cause, an annual fundraising event that raises money to fund collaborative cancer grants in the San Diego area. These grants, called Curebound Discovery Grants, are awarded to support innovative research in the fight to cure cancer. For 2022, four researchers from Sanford Burnham Prebys were awarded Discovery Grants: Associate Professor Anindya Bagchi, Ph.D., Assistant Professor Lukas Chavez, Ph.D., Professor Nicholas Cosford, Ph.D. and Professor Michael Jackson, Ph.D.

Treating incurable pediatric brain tumors 
Bagchi and Chavez will collaborate to advance a new therapeutic approach for medulloblastoma, the most common childhood brain tumor. They will be focusing on a gene called MYC, found only in the deadliest forms of medulloblastoma. This form of brain cancer is currently untreatable, but Bagchi and Chavez recently discovered a molecule that can help control the activity of the MYC gene and potentially inhibit the growth of medulloblastoma tumors. The researcher holds promise to reveal a new treatment approach for this incurable cancer. 

The grant is titled “Decoding the Role of the Long Non-Coding RNA PVT1 in Medulloblastoma.”

Repurposing drugs for deadly childhood brain cancer
Jackson and Chavez will collaborate to identify new treatment options for ependymoma, an aggressive pediatric brain tumor and leading cause of death among childhood cancer patients. The researchers will screen patient tumor cells against drugs already approved by the FDA for other conditions, looking for drugs that could be repurposed to fight these tumors. Because FDA-approved drugs are known to be safe for humans, this may prove to be the quickest way to help patients currently living with this cancer. 

The grant is titled “High Throughput-Screen for Inhibitors of Pediatric Ependymoma.”

Developing drugs for bone-metastatic prostate cancer
Cosford will work with Christina Jamieson, Ph.D., from the University of California, San Diego, to advance a new treatment approach for prostate cancer that has spread to the bones. Bone is the most common place for prostate cancer to metastasize, and this form of cancer is currently incurable. The researchers will look for drugs that can kill tumor cells by inhibiting autophagy, a process that promotes tumor progression. The results of the study could identify a new drug ready for clinical trials.

The grant is titled “Pre-Clinical Development of New Autophagy Targeting Drugs for Bone Metastatic Prostate Cancer.”

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