By Marty Trieschmann
July 12, 2023 | Adam Wolfe, M.D., Ph.D., a radiation oncologist at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute has received a $583,200 grant from the American Cancer Society (ACS) to study radiation resistance in pancreatic cancer, a lethal disease with the highest mortality rate of all cancers.
The four-year ACS Clinician Science Development Grant will fund Wolfe’s study of KRAS, a mutated gene that is present in 90% of all pancreatic cancer cases, and its connection to RAD18, a DNA repair enzyme also highly expressed in pancreatic cancer that prevents radiation from destroying the cancer cells.
In most cancers, radiation, along with chemotherapy, destroys cancer cells that have developed from damaged DNA.
“In pancreatic cancer, these therapies are challenging due to the presence of intrinsic resistance mechanisms from heightened DNA repair — a consequence of the mutated oncogene KRAS,” said Wolfe, an assistant professor in the UAMS Department of Radiation Oncology who has been studying pancreatic cancer since his residency at Ohio State University.
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