November 2016 — Key Mechanisms of Cancer, Aging and Inflammation Uncovered
A team of researchers led by Patricia Opresko, PhD, Associate Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health at Pitt, and member of the UPCI Molecular and Cellular Cancer Biology Program and Carnegie Mellon University Center for Nucleic Acids Science and Technology, has uncovered new details about the biology of telomeres. These DNA “caps” protect the tips of chromosomes and play key roles in a number of health conditions, including cancer, inflammation and aging. Telomeres are shortened every time a cell divides and therefore become smaller as a person ages. When they become too short, telomeres send a signal to the cell to stop dividing permanently, which impairs the ability of tissues to regenerate and contributes to many aging-related diseases. In contrast, in most cancer cells, levels of the enzyme telomerase, which lengthens telomeres, are elevated, allowing them to divide indefinitely.
A number of studies have shown that oxidative stress—a condition where damaging molecules known as free radicals build up inside cell—accelerates telomere shortening. Free radicals can damage not only the DNA that make up telomeres, but also the DNA building blocks used to extend them. New findings by the research team suggest that the mechanism by which oxidative stress accelerates telomere shortening is by damaging the DNA precursor molecules, not the telomere itself. Mediation of these biological activities may provide new approaches for treating cancer.
Watch Dr. Opresko further discuss their findings in the video below, and read the press release here to learn more.
October 2016 — Dr. Stanley Marks Honored with Endowed Chair in His Name to Recruit Cancer Leaders
Stanley Marks, MD, a leading UPMC oncologist and advocate for cancer patients throughout the western Pennsylvania region, was honored this month by UPMC and his medical partners at Oncology Hematology Association (OHA) through the establishment of the Stanley M. Marks – OHA Endowed Chair in Hematology/Oncology Leadership. The permanent endowment will support the recruitment and retention of outstanding leaders in the University of Pittsburgh Division of Hematology/Oncology. It also will help to train professionals devoted to research and improved treatments for patients.
Please watch the video below, and click here to learn more.
September 2016 — UPCI-led Studies Presented at ASTRO 2016 Annual Meeting
The annual meeting of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) was held in Boston this week, and several UPCI investigators presented their novel research findings related to improving treatment for cancer patients. Watch Dwight Heron, MD, FACRO, FACR discuss several of these studies, and read more here and here.