U of G Scientists Awarded Major Grants for Cancer Research

May 06, 2009 - News Release

Two University of Guelph researchers have received nearly $1 million from the Canadian Cancer Society to support their promising efforts to find new ways to control the growth of cancer.

The grants to Department of Biomedical Sciences professors Brenda Coomber and Roger Moorehead were among 71 new research grants announced Wednesday by the Canadian Cancer Society.

Moorehead received a special Lung Cancer Initiative grant, one of only five awarded across the country.

“This new funding is exciting and will enable my research to continue forward and hopefully make new discoveries that will help answer more questions about the cancer puzzle,” said Moorehead, who will receive $491,230 over four years to investigate the roles of several genes in the development of lung cancer.

He will modify the expression of these genes in cells taken from human lung cancers to determine exactly how they function in the growth and progression of lung cancer. In particular, his team will focus on type 1 insulin-like growth factor receptor (IGF-IR), a protein on the surface of the cell that signals the cell nucleus whether to divide and grow or die. Researchers want to understand how IGF-IR is involved in triggering cancer and whether drugs can be developed to “switch it off.”

“Eventually we want to be able to show whether this receptor will be a good target in the treatment of lung cancer,” said Moorehead.

Coomber, co-director of U of G’s Institute for Comparative Cancer Investigation (ICCI), will receive $481,760 over four years to continue research on angiogenesis — blood vessel growth — and cancer. Promising advances in cancer treatment in recent years involve preventing the development of blood vessels that feed the tumours.

Working with David Rodenhiser of the University of Western Ontario, Coomber’s lab is examining whether some anti-angiogenic therapies have some unintended consequences.

“Reducing the amount of oxygen available may actually cause genetic changes that promote the growth of tumour cells, thus compromising the effectiveness of the treatment, which could be counteracted if properly understood,” said Coomber.

For a complete list of the new Canadian Cancer Society-funded research grants across the country, visit www.cancer.ca.

“These excellent and innovative new projects represent tremendous hope for making cancer history,” says Tania Framst, manager of the society’s Guelph office. “The Canadian Cancer Society is grateful for the continued generosity of our donors and volunteers who make this research possible.”


Prof. Brenda Coomber
Department of Biomedical Sciences
519-824-4120, Ext. 52922

Prof. Roger Moorehead
Department of Biomedical Sciences
519-824-4120, Ext. 54950

For media questions, contact U of G Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 591-824-4120, Ext. 53338, lhunt@uoguelph.ca, or Barry Gunn, Ext. 56982, bagunn@uoguelph.ca.

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