Unlocking the mysteries of cancer requires a lot of keys, each of which can open a door that leads to many more gateways of discovery.
Molecular oncology researcher Hongwu Chen, for example, has found that certain proteins that control how often genes are expressed play a much larger role in upsetting normal hormone function – and promoting cancer cell growth – than was previously thought. The discovery may fuel the development of new, more targeted cancer therapies.
A frustration with the lack of effective treatments for pancreatic cancer led surgeon Richard Bold out of the operating room and into the laboratory to better understand pancreatic cancer cells. As you will learn, Bold and his collaborators found that by depriving the cells of the enzyme arginine, cancer-cell proliferation could be cut in half. The finding could help extend the lives of patients with pancreatic cancer.
These opportunities are possible only because of our integrated system, which combines the talents of researchers across the academic spectrum. The newest member of our research program, immunologist William Murphy, broadens our capabilities even further. Murphy is finding ways to kill cancer stem cells, control the immune system's role in tumor growth and boost the efficacy of immunotherapy for various types of cancer.
Sometimes, anti-androgen therapy for prostate cancer can cause bone loss, a side effect that can be devastating when the prostate cancer has spread to the bones. UC Davis oncologist Primo Lara and research physiologist Marta Van Loan have developed a blood test to better diagnose and track the progress of bone metastases and predict survival outcomes for prostate cancer patients. Their test may prove useful in tailoring treatments to each patient's specific disease.
Surviving the emotional trauma of a cancer diagnosis is a different kind of challenge, one that cannot be addressed from a research laboratory. The WeCARE Community-Based Breast Cancer Peer Navigator Program matches newly diagnosed breast cancer patients with breastcancer survivors. The "cancer coaches" can help ease anxiety and provide meaningful guidance for patients.
In Amador County, the connections that support UC Davis Cancer Center are intimate, too. In this scenic community, Cathy Landgraf has focused her efforts on raising funds for UC Davis Cancer Center in memory of her sister, Christine, and mother, Helen. Her efforts are an example of the power of small communities of individuals to make a very big difference.
UC Davis Cancer Center physicians, researchers, volunteers and community fundraisers are determined to find answers to cancer's greatest challenges. Together, their keys are helping open the doors to healing.