ALBANY, N.Y., August 1, 2005 — A scientist at Albany Medical College has been awarded a $719,000 grant from the American Cancer Society to study the effects of a combination therapy designed to combat the growth of cancerous tumors while protecting the heart from damaging toxicity levels.
Rebecca Keller, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Center for Cardiovascular Sciences at the Medical College, is seeking to combine the chemotherapy agent doxorubicin (adriamycin)—a widely used and effective chemotherapy treatment for lymphomas, leukemia, and solid tumors such as breast and prostate cancer—with resveratrol, a natural compound found in grapes and red wine that is known to have protective cardiac properties during myocardial infarctions. Studies have also shown that the compound helps to inhibit the growth of breast cancer, lung cancer, thyroid cancer and prostate cancer cells.
“This grant aims to understand the mechanisms of resveratrol in protecting the heart to determine whether it could be useful in defending against doxorubicin-induced damage,” said Keller. “Once understood, we may be able to provide a combination therapy that can effectively combat cancer while eliminating the life-threatening side effects that result from this effective but highly toxic chemotherapeutic agent.”
When used in high dose, doxorubicin can cause a dose-related chronic toxicity which results in heart failure in 7 to 20 percent of patients. Resveratrol, a natural antioxidant, has proven beneficial when used in models of ischemic injury to the heart. Cardiac tissue, which normally has low antioxidant activity, when boosted with resveratrol allows the heart to be protected against oxygen toxicity or oxygen-free radical damage.
“The American Cancer Society is dedicated to funding some of the most dynamic and cutting-edge research in the nation and we’re proud to support Dr. Keller’s work right here in the Capital Region,” said Karen Carpenter-Palumbo, regional vice president of the American Cancer Society. “Our hope is that her work will lead to a better way of treating cancer and ultimately save lives.”