NIH funds $1.4 Million Study on Cancer Dormancy and Preventing Metastatic Growth

The National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Center Institute have awarded Julio Aguirre-Ghiso of UAlbany’s Gen*NY*Sis Center for Excellence in Cancer Genomics a $1.4 million grant to find ways to stop metastatic growth of cancer cells.

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 24, 2005) --The National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Center Institute have awarded Julio Aguirre-Ghiso of UAlbany’s Gen*NY*Sis Center for Excellence in Cancer Genomics a $1.4 million grant to find ways to stop metastatic growth of cancer cells. The grant, titled "Functional determinants of metastatic dormancy" scored in the top 0.9 percentile.

Aguirre-Ghiso's long-term goal is to identify the mechanisms that govern metastatic growth, most importantly the induction of dormancy of metastasis. Due to the morbidity and mortality associated with metastatic disease, finding ways to stop metastatic growth either by inducing dormancy of inoperable but growing micro-metastasis, maintaining dormancy or even eradicating disseminated dormant cells, would greatly reduce deaths caused by cancer.

“More than half of cancer patients die from metastatic disease that develops months, years or even decades after primary tumor removal,” said Aguirre-Ghiso, “and it appears that during these periods disseminated cells are in a dormant, non-proliferative state. Clearly, forcing into dormancy or extending dormancy of these cells would be highly beneficial for patients.” The grant will help study a newly identified ŇstressÓ signaling mechanism and gene programs that are selectively activated in dormant carcinoma cells and that are essential for the maintenance of dormancy.

Aguirre-Ghiso received his doctorate from the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina. He completed his post-doctoral work at Mount Sinai School of Medicine of New York University in New York City. Aguirre-Ghiso is an assistant professor of structural and cell biology in the department of biomedical sciences of the School of Public Health. He also holds an adjunct appointment with the department of biological sciences of the College of Arts and Sciences at UAlbany.