MTI awards seed grant to The Jackson Laboratory to develop new cancer drug discovery tool

Date: January 20, 2011
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Bar Harbor, Maine – A Jackson Laboratory research team headed by Assistant Professor Kevin Mills, Ph.D., was awarded a seed grant from the Maine Technology Institute to develop a new drug discovery tool for leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma.

With the $12,500 grant, to be matched by Jackson Laboratory funds, the researchers will develop their innovative “genetic chemotherapy” approach to identify candidate drugs using a fast, high-throughput approach, initially screening about 1,000 compounds.

An estimated 137,000 new cases of leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma were diagnosed in the U.S. in 2010. The state of Maine continues to suffer one of the highest overall cancer rates in the nation, with more than 30 cases per 100,000 Mainers. “In this context,” Mills says, “leukemia and lymphoma continue to be significant individual and public health concerns nationwide, and especially in Maine.”

Treatment of these patients is a significant challenge. Conventional chemotherapy for these cancers can cause devastating side effects, including immune system disruption, bone marrow destruction, nausea, fatigue, hair loss and therapy-related secondary tumors.

“We have developed a novel lymphoma treatment paradigm that selectively induces cancer cell self-destruction,” Mills says. “This approach, termed genetic chemotherapy, has potential to better treat lymphoma patients while reducing the unintended side effects in healthy tissues.” The researchers plan to collaborate with various clinical centers in the state to test the candidate drugs on primary patient-derived cancer cells.

The Jackson Laboratory is an independent, nonprofit biomedical research institution and National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center based in Bar Harbor, Maine, with a facility in Sacramento, Calif. Its mission is to discover the genetic basis for preventing, treating and curing human diseases, and to enable research and education for the global biomedical community.


Joyce Peterson, 207-288-6058, The Jackson Laboratory

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