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Kansas State University

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K-State collaborates to fight cancer

Partnering with KU will strengthen Kansas' position as a bioscience hub


The complementary nature of the cancer research programs at K-State and the University of Kansas make them ideal partners for fighting cancer.

Sundeep Rayat/Cecilia ArigaKansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius recently announced a new cooperative agreement between the two institutions, which was signed in her office by K-State President Jon Wefald and KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway.

"Kansas is fortunate to have these two strong cancer research programs," said Rob Denell, director of K-State's Terry C. Johnson Center for Basic Cancer Research. "This new synergy will increase our productivity still further."

When it comes to cancer research, K-State's specialty is basic research. Nearly 70 faculty members affiliated with the center perform laboratory studies that address the causes of cancer and provide the basis for new approaches to prevention, diagnosis and treatment, Denell said.

Some of the projects K-State researchers are working on include figuring out how to retain the anti-cancer properties of wheat during processing, developing simple tests for breast and prostate cancers and finding ways to target anti-cancer drugs directly to tumors.

The KU Cancer Center specializes in clinical studies. Its researchers and clinicians focus on cancer diagnosis and treatment, drug development and delivery, patient care, prevention and survivorship, according to Denell.

Masaaki Tamura, Deryl Troyer, Dua Hua"One important aspect of the agreement is that it will improve the translation of K-State's basic research to clinical trials," Denell said.

Administrative cooperation between the two centers will foster closer working relationships between researchers, which will result in a more comprehensive approach to cancer research in Kansas, Denell said. The universities will share sophisticated research facilities and K-State's cancer researchers may apply for KU Cancer Center funding.

The collaboration also was made to strengthen the KU Cancer Center's application for designation as a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute. The application, due in 2011, has garnered strong support statewide and, if granted, could strengthen the state's position as a bioscience hub, building on the momentum created by the news that the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility is coming to Manhattan and K-State.


Photos: (Top) Assistant chemistry professor Sundeep Rayat works with undergraduate researcher Cecilia Ariga on compounds shown to have an adverse effect on various kinds of cancer cells. (Below) Masaaki Tamura, Deryl Troyer and Duy Hua inspect a peptide synthesizer in Hua’s lab. The synthesizer is used to make short synthetic amino acid chains, which enhance a nanoparticle’s ability to target cancer cells. Photos courtesy of the Terry C. Johnson Center for Basic Cancer Research.