Latest research & developments in cancer highlighted at major meeting

By Vanessa deGier

Researchers from the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center will take center stage during the 2008 Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, set for the San Diego Convention Center April 12-16.

Information presented by the researchers includes clinical trial findings related to potentially life-saving cancer therapies, current efforts in translational and basic cancer research, as well as evaluation of the role of research in cancer discovery, understanding, progression and treatment. They include:

## Using the Immune System to Fight Cancer

Researcher Lawrence Fong, MD, will participate in a press briefing on immunotherapy research and how researchers are enlisting the body’s immune system to fight cancer by shrinking tumors and preventing new ones from forming. He will also present data from a phase 1 prostate cancer clinical trial. Fong and colleagues found that blocking CTLA-4, a cellular molecule on lymphocytes that inhibits immune response, produced meaningful clinical benefits in patients with prostate cancer who hadn’t responded to hormone therapy. Fong is an assistant professor of medicine at UCSF. (Tuesday, April 15, 8:00 a.m., Press Room.)

## Taking Advantage of P53 Therapy

Gerard Evan, PhD, will talk about tumor suppression and transcription factor p53, a protein that is central to many of the cell’s anti-cancer mechanisms. Evan, who has studied p53 extensively, will also discuss how the protein’s function might be restored in tumor cells and if this could be of therapeutic value in cancer treatment. Evan is the Gerson and Barbara Bass Baker Distinguished Professor of Cancer Biology at UCSF, and co-leader of the Cell Cycling and Signaling Program at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. (Monday, April 14, 7:00 a.m., Room 29A-D)

## Therapeutic Targeting of the Angiogenic Switch

Douglas Hanahan, PhD, will discuss mechanisms and therapeutic targeting of the onset of angiogenesis, or the “angiogenic switch,” a physiological process that involves the growth of new blood vessels allowing tumors to grow and progress. He will also discuss VEGF pathway inhibition and why this antiangiogenic therapy evokes only a short-term blockage of tumor angiogenesis. Hanahan is a professor of biochemistry at UCSF, and leader, Mouse Models of Cancer Program, UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. (Monday, April 14, 7:00 a.m., Room 6C) 

More than 17,000 leading scientists from around the world will be present at the meeting, which is titled “Translating the Latest Discoveries into Cancer Prevention and Cures.” The meeting is also attended by academic, industry and government scientists as well as clinical oncologists, students, cancer survivors, advocates and other healthcare professionals.

## Media Contacts: 

For expert opinion or to interview UCSF researchers about their presentations during or after the meeting, please contact Vanessa deGier in the UCSF News Office at (415) 476-2557. The AACR press contact on-site is Staci Vernick Goldberg, director of Communications, at (619) 525-6370.

## About the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center:

UCSF was designated as a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute in 1999 in recognition of the highest level of excellence in both its scientific research and its ability to integrate diverse research approaches to focus on the problem of cancer and improve patient outcomes. The center ranks firstin California and sixth nationwide in National Cancer Institute research grants and is home to pioneers in research into genetic, cellular and immune system causes and responses to cancer.
Among its many subspecialties, the center includes flagship programs in breast, brain and prostate cancer. The Center must is a leader in novel laboratory-based and clinical research and maintains programs that focus on cancer prevention, control, and population sciences.

## About the AACR:

The mission of the AACR is to prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1907, AACR is the world’s oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research. Its members include more than 27,000 basic, translational, and clinical researchers, healthcare professional, cancer survivors and advocates in the United States and more than 70 other countries.