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Professor to develop prostate cancer model in zebrafish

Pudur Jagadeeswaran, biological sciencesPudur Jagadeeswaran, left, professor of biological sciences, has been awarded $200,000 by the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas to fund research that will determine if zebrafish can be used to develop an early detection method for prostate cancer. The grant was one of 52 grants the institute awarded to 13 institutions in Texas, totaling more than $40 million in cancer research funding.

Prostate cancer is the second most common cause of cancer deaths in men, but currently there is no test available to detect prostate cancer in its early stages. The two-year research project seeks to develop a test that can detect prostate cancer in its early stages and can be treated with chemotherapy.

“The previous notion was that only mammals have prostate glands. Zebrafish do not have prostate glands but do have prostate-like cells,” says Jagadeeswaran. He says the question is now if researchers can create a prostate cancer model in a fish by introducing oncogenes, which are tumor-causing agents.

Last April at the American Association for Cancer Research annual conference in Washington, D.C., Jagadeeswaran presented evidence that zebrafish could serve as a model for prostate cancer as their genes are very similar to those of humans. In future research, he hopes to use zebrafish to test a variety of chemicals which can cure the prostate cancer.

Jagadeeswaran became the first U.S. researcher about 15 years ago to use zebrafish to model human blood clotting disorders, predicting how to best counteract blood clots in human blood vessels.

The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas was established in 2007 to fund groundbreaking cancer research and prevention programs and services in Texas. CPRIT supports innovation in the selection of research projects emphasizing immediate or long-term medical breakthroughs; commercialization opportunities for research, and prevention services and health education for citizens with culturally appropriate information about ways in which their risks of developing and dying from cancer can be reduced.

The awards kick off CPRIT's second year and are the first of $216 million expected to be awarded by CPRIT in 2011. During the past year, CPRIT has awarded more than $250 million to 46 academic institutions, community organizations and private companies in Texas. With matching funds obligated by grant recipients, more than $350 million has been dedicated to cancer research.

Posted on: Tue 18 January 2011

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