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Pitt Brain Tumor Program Researchers Present Novel Findings at AACR Annual Meeting

DENVER, Colo., April 22, 2009 — C-signaling proteins that fight foreign agents such as viruses and tumors also suppress brain tumor development, according to researchers from the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI). Results of the study, Abstract Number 4187, were presented at the 100th annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).

According to Mitsugu Fujita, M.D., Ph.D., research instructor of neurological surgery for the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Type 1interferons (IFN-α and IFN-β) play pivotal roles in the dynamic relationship between a patient’s immune system and the development of gliomas, the most common form of brain cancer.

“Brain cancer kills more than 13,000 people every year,” said Dr. Fujita. “Despite all of the advances in cancer research, we still know relatively little about brain cancer development. In our laboratory, we are working to understand the role the immune system plays in brain cancer development from the beginning of the disease.”

Dr. Fujita and his colleagues induced brain tumors in mice, including rodents that lack receptors for type 1 IFNs. The receptor-deficient mice exhibited accelerated tumor growth, indicating that a type 1 IFN response is critical to tumor prevention.

This study was sponsored by a grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Founded in 1984, The University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute became a National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in record time, six years. UPCI, the only cancer center in western Pennsylvania with this elite designation, serves the region’s population of more than 6 million. Presently, UPCI receives a total of $154 million in research grants and is ranked 10th in funding from the NCI.

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