Development of novel therapeutics for stem-like cancer cells

Funding Type: 
Disease Team Planning
Grant Number: 
ICOC Funds Committed: 
Public Abstract: 

Stem cell research and cancer research are not unrelated. Tissues are generated by stem cells which have the capacity to self renewal and regeneration. However, stem cells – popularly known as a source of rejuvenation – can play harmful roles in the body, specifically in the growth and spread of cancer. Recent research on stem cells implicates these cells in the origin and the recurrence of cancer. Among the rapidly dividing cells of a tumor, scientists have identified special cells that drive the growth of the cancer and appear to be responsible for recurrence of the disease after therapy. Cancer treatment can only be effective and curative if these cancer stem cells are eradicated. In order to achieve this goal, we need to learn much more about the proteins and life processes that are unique to these cells. We propose to contribute to this knowledge base on cancer stem cells by engaging and combining the power of biology and chemistry at {REDACTED} and at the same time use the new knowledge to develop novel therapeutic approaches that target cancer stem cells. The determining orientation of this work will be to provide therapeutic benefits for the cancer patient and ultimately to eliminate this disease.

Statement of Benefit to California: 

Cancer is a major public health issue and represents a significant burden of disease. In 2007, there were more than 150,000 new cases of cancer in California and 60,000 deaths from cancer. The economic burden of the disease is huge and includes dollars spent for diagnosis and treatment, the value of time lost from productive activities by those living with the disease, and the value of the lives lost prematurely. Putting a conservative cost of $ 50,000 on each case of newly diagnosed cancer, the numbers for California amount to $ 7.5 billion annually. Demographic trends in the next 20 years will exacerbate the effects of cancer epidemiology by increasing the population of older people who at greater risk for cancer. Health care needs are unlimited, whereas resources are finite. Public expenditures on health care have to compete with other societal priorities such as education, the environment, defense and infrastructure. Even in relatively wealthy, developed countries, scarcity is the defining characteristic of resource allocation problems. Therefore, new therapies are desperately needed to enhance treatment options, to improve quality of life and to lower healthcare costs.