K-State launches Cancer Research Collaboration of Excellence in Tumor Microenvironment Studies
Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021
This micro-CT image shows a whole breast tumor on the left, and the tumor's microenvironment with diminished blood vessels and chemo- and radiation therapy-resistant regions on the right. Brad Behnke, professor of kinesiology and associate dean of research and graduate studies for Kansas State University's College of Health and Human Sciences, leads the new Cancer Research Collaboration of Excellence in Tumor Microenvironment Studies, established by K-State's Johnson Cancer Research Center. More information on this image and the collaboration can also be found at cancer.k-state.edu/research/CRCE-tumor-microenvironment.html. | Download this photo.
MANHATTAN — The Johnson Cancer Research Center at Kansas State University has launched a Cancer Research Collaboration of Excellence in Tumor Microenvironment Studies. The multidisciplinary collaboration will examine how environmental conditions within tumors impact their development, growth and aggressiveness, and apply the findings to improve cancer therapies.
The collaboration is made possible with a two-year, $100,000 award from the cancer research center. Brad Behnke, professor of kinesiology and associate dean of research and graduate studies for the College of Health and Human Sciences, leads the collaboration. The members are investigating changes in the tumor microenvironment due to exposure to different levels of radiation, oxygen pressures and vitamin D.
"Many conventional cancer therapies fail due to factors related to the tumor's environment," Behnke said. "We want to identify microenvironment changes that cause cancer growth and therapy resistance, and devise methods to combat them."
The collaboration's four main research projects aim to answer the following questions. What DNA mutations occur in response to radiation? Does exercise increase oxygen in breast tumors and thus improve response to chemotherapy and radiation? Does nitrate supplementation increase tumor oxygenation and thus decrease tumor growth? And how do ovarian tumors respond to different levels of vitamin D?
"We are excited to establish this Cancer Research Collaboration of Excellence in Tumor Microenvironment Studies that brings together outstanding K-State scientists from multiple disciplines to investigate how various treatments change tumor growth," said Sherry Fleming, director of the Johnson Cancer Research Center and professor of biology. "We're grateful to our supporters for making it possible to fund this excellent group of investigators."
Other researchers involved in the collaboration are Amir Bahadori, associate professor in mechanical and nuclear engineering; Carl Ade, associate professor in kinesiology; David Poole, university distinguished professor of anatomy and physiology and kinesiology; Chieko Azuma, clinical associate professor of radiation oncology; and Wei-Wen Hsu, associate professor in statistics.
"This research collaboration is an exciting step forward in helping to understand the basic mechanisms underlying cancers and identifying strategies for novel therapies," said Beth Montelone, senior associate vice president for research. "We look forward to the outcomes of this work and the follow-on projects that could result from it."
This is the Johnson Cancer Research Center's second Cancer Research Collaboration of Excellence. The first was for pancreatic cancer studies. This program supports multidisciplinary teams fighting cancer synergistically in a focused area of cancer research.
The Johnson Cancer Research Center, in the College of Arts and Sciences, supports and advances cancer research and education at Kansas State University. Its programs are made possible by private funding. Information about the center is at cancer.k-state.edu.