Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
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New Research Supplements to Stimulate Research in HIV-Related Cancers

The Lurie Cancer Center has received two individual supplements from the NCI to the Cancer Center Support Grant to stimulate research in Non-AIDS Defining Cancers (NADCs) in Aging Populations, and in HIV/AIDS-related malignancies.

The grants will enable investigators to obtain the data needed to expand their research, and help advance discoveries made by Northwestern scientists that have potential for broad global impact. Because the cancers that are under study afflict both uninfected and HIV-infected individuals, the lessons learned about why they are more common or severe in people with HIV will be widely applicable.

The Lurie Cancer Center members leading these projects are:    

Richard D’Aquila, MD, The Howard Taylor Ricketts, MD, Professor of Medicine (Infectious Diseases)

His proposal, “APOBEC3B: Contributions to lung cancer incidence and progression in HIV-infected persons, as well as to chemotherapy responses,” will build on the discovery that elevated plasma TNF-a, known to persist systemically at high levels during ART-suppression of HIV, increases A3B transcription.  D’Aquila’s project will assess whether increased APOBEC3B mutational activity due to HIV infection contributes to the increased occurrence and morbidity of lung cancer in patients with HIV.

“These awards highlight the exceptionally collaborative environment at the Lurie Cancer Center and across Northwestern,” says D’Aquila. “The synergy of our HIV and cancer research teams is fueling innovative approaches that promise to improve health for all, given that lung cancer remains a major health problem in the United States.”

Richard Longnecker, PhD, The Dan and Bertha Spear Research Professor and Professor of Microbiology and Immunology

The research project, “Interplay between Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) and HIV in Kaposi sarcoma,” proposed by Longnecker and his colleague Jia Chen, PhD, Research Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at Feinberg and their collaborator, Thomas Hope, PhD, Professor of Cell and Molecular Biology, is focused on investigating how HIV infection status, age and gender influence KSHV infection and the subsequent development of Kaposi sarcoma. The innovative strengths of the proposal derive from using a combination of bioinformatics, biochemistry, virology, and explant culture of human tissue to test their hypothesis. Results from this highly collaborative project will provide important data in regard to the etiology of Kaposi Sarcoma. More importantly, it may promote the development of novel diagnostic, preventive and therapeutic strategies for this AIDS-defining cancer.

“We feel that our proposal is uniquely relevant to this NCI initiative,” said Longnecker. “Our studies will directly enhance the knowledge base of HIV/AIDS malignancy pathogenesis and etiology, and may provide mechanisms to allow early detection and identify potential targeted therapies for all immunocompromised patients.”