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MUSC center to provide targeted stem cell
therapy for patient survival
While survival rates
have improved through the years with standard cancer therapies that
utilize surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation to attack cancer tumors,
cancer remains one of the largest threats to public health.
A recently approved Centers of Economic Excellence (CoEE) program will
seek to improve cancer outcomes by developing new therapeutic options
for killing cancer stem cells and stem cell replacement.
The CoEE in Cancer Stem Cell Biology and Therapy was approved by the
Commission on Higher Education for $5 million in state funding through
the South Carolina Research Centers of Economic Excellence Act, CoEE
officials announced July 8.
Health Sciences South Carolina (HSSC), along with philanthropic funding
from MUSC, will provide the $5 million dollar-for-dollar match required
by the state.
HCC and four other cancer-related centers will lead the new center and
will work in close collaboration with Clemson and other HSSC member
The focus of the center is twofold: first, identify ways to use
the body’s stem cells found in bone marrow or adult organs as treatment
targets for cancer therapy; second, develop and market the
bioengineering aspects of stem cell collection and utilization for more
functional and adaptable clinical applications.
The center will have two endowed chairs, cancer cellular research and
cancer bioengineering research, which will reside at MUSC. Recruiting
for nationally respected researchers is underway. MUSC’s certified Bone
Marrow Transplant program and National Institutes of Health-funded
General Clinical Research Center will further enhance research efforts.
The center will interface with other centers that address cancer and
regenerative medicine, leveraging the intellectual talent at MUSC and
Andrew Kraft, M.D., HCC director, is the center’s principal contact. He
said the center in Cancer Stem Cell Biology and Therapy will position
South Carolina as a leader in this new transdisciplinary field, which
merges bioengineering and biomedicine.
“This CoEE will provide the resources to recruit outstanding
individuals to explore the function and inhibition of cancer stem
cells, and in so doing, may lead to exciting new stem cell-based cancer
therapies that will improve survival rates and create new economic
opportunities for South Carolina,” said Kraft.
“This effort would not be possible without close collaboration between
MUSC and Clemson, which will be spearheaded by Vincent S. Gallicchio,
Ph.D.; and the investments made by the South Carolina, Health Sciences
South Carolina and its members,” Kraft added.
In keeping with the HSSC mission to advance the state’s economy through
research, the center in Cancer Stem Cell Biology and Therapy will have
an immediate economic impact from the recruitment and hiring of the
endowed chairs and their research staffs.
Other opportunities include private spin-off companies and patents
generated by discoveries related to tissue engineering, anti-cancer
therapies, and drug screening and discovery that are then licensed by
pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. The center also will pursue
additional funding from the National Institutes of Health and National
Citing the importance of cancer stem cell research and the potential
for improving both public health and the state’s knowledge economy,
HSSC president and CEO Jay Moskowitz, Ph.D., praised the Commission on
Higher Education and the CoEE Review Board for approving the CoEE
program in Cancer Stem Cell Biology and Therapy.
“This is validation of the CoEE program, which seeks to transform our
state’s future through research,” Moskowitz said. “The stem cell
research proposed by Drs. Kraft and Gallicchio has implications for the
potential development of novel, more effective therapies that can be
patented, and in the process, dramatically improve cancer survival
Friday, Aug. 8, 2008
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