- Posted Tuesday April 19, 2005
(Oxford, UK; Phoenix, Ariz.; Bethesda, Maryland) - Cancer researchers running the world's second largest virtual supercomputer announced today that their vast Peer-to-Peer Network has turned its attention to fighting pancreatic cancer. In a joint statement, with the National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR), Dr. Graham Richards, Chairman of the Oxford University Chemistry Department and Dr. Daniel Von Hoff, Director of the NFCR Center for Targeted Cancer Therapies at the University of Arizona in Tucson and the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) in Phoenix, announced the new collaborative research project that will target developing cancer drugs to fight one of the world's most deadly cancer types, pancreatic cancer.
The Screensaver-LifeSaver project (www.NFCR.org) directed by Dr. Richards, also announced that the program has now connected over 3 million computer users from more than 200 countries. These computer users now donate more than 10,000 hours of volunteer computer time to cancer research each month. The project is powered by Peer-to-Peer technology provided by United Devices and in silico simulation software from Accelrys.
Targeting Pancreatic Cancer
Through NFCR's collaborative international network of "Laboratories without Walls", pancreatic researchers will work with several newly identified protein targets related to the development of pancreatic cancer. These targets, Aurora A Kinase, Aurora B Kinase, PRL-1 Phosphatase, and Urokinase-type Plasminogen Activator (uPA), have been recently confirmed to be involved in the progression and invasion of pancreatic cancer and other types of cancers. The target will be screened against more than 3.5 million drug-like molecules as potential drug candidates.
"The success of our cancer research program based on the computational drug design program has been very encouraging to this point. Over 10% of our hits in a pilot study are genuine drug target candidates, much better than the pharmaceutical industry expected," said Dr. Richards.
In 2005, an estimated 32,000 individuals in the United States alone will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. As the fourth leading cause of death from cancer in the US, pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival rate of all types of malignancies, with the 1-year relative survival rate of only 24% and the 5-year survival rate of about 4%. "The process for pancreatic cancer drug development must be accelerated to save patients' lives," said Dr. Von Hoff. "This Lifesaver-Screensaver project targeting pancreatic cancer will work to speed the drug development process by at least 3 years, hopefully more."
"We are very proud that NFCR is able to facilitate this very potentially very significant collaboration program and provide the collaboration funding for this project against pancreatic cancer," said Dr. Sujuan Ba, Science Director for the NFCR.
How it Works
Individuals interested in participating can download the free screen saver at www.NFCR.org and click on the download screensaver button. The screen saver will run in the background on a user's computer while the computer is idle and when connected to an internet connection, the user's computer will download a target molecule and run the program against a database of molecules. When finished, the computer will then upload the results back to the central servers and download a new assignment.
National Foundation for Cancer Research
Since its founding, the NFCR has spent more than $218 million funding basic science cancer research and prevention education focused on understanding how and why cells become cancerous. NFCR is dedicated to funding scientists who are discovering cancer's molecular mysteries and translating these discoveries into therapies that hold the hope for curing cancer.
NFCR has established a powerful collaborative network of nine research centers and more than 30 laboratories around the world in the fight against cancer. NFCR scientists work together to share knowledge so that discoveries at the bench can be accelerated to the bedside. For more visit www.NFCR.org or call (800) 321-CURE.
Oxford University and the NFCR Centre for Computational Drug
The University of Oxford is internationally renowned for the quality and diversity of its research, with over 3000 academic staff and 3000 postgraduate students working on research. The Chemistry Department at Oxford is the largest in the western world, graduating over 80 PhD scientists each year. The Department boasts a dozen Fellows of the Royal Society, and has produced four Nobel Laureates.
The mission of the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is to make and translate genomic discoveries into advances in human health. TGen is focused on personalized medicine and plans to accomplish its goals through robust and disease-focused research programs and its state-of-the-art bioinformatics and computational biology facilities.
Arizona Cancer Center
The Arizona Cancer Center's mission is to prevent and cure cancer through excellence in patient care, research, and education. The Center, directed by David S. Alberts, M.D., is one of a small, prestigious network of comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Comprehensive status is the highest ranking the NCI gives to cancer centers. This special designation means that the center focuses not only on basic science research and clinical (patient-oriented) research, but also on prevention, control, and population sciences.
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