October 18, 2017
The Associated Press has featured Srinidi Mohan, Ph.D., assistant professor in the University of New England College of Pharmacy, for his innovation in the field of breast cancer research. Mohan has received a $375,000 funding award from the Maine Cancer Foundation to advance the development of his early detection and disease monitoring method.
Mohan has received a provisional patent for his research, which uses a marker in the blood to detect the presence of highly aggressive tumors and to help track cancer growth. Discovered while studying nutritional supplements, Mohan found that the marker Nw-hydroxy-L-Arginine (NOHA) was both a sensitive and reliable indicator for estrogen receptor-negative (ER–) tumors, found in the most aggressive types of breast cancer.
According to the American Breast Cancer Foundation, estrogen-negative breast cancer is diagnosed in approximately 60,000 individuals each year in the United States, with young women and African Americans most at risk. As an aggressive tumor, estrogen-negative breast cancer can grow between scheduled screenings, provides no noticeable symptoms prior to tumor cyst development, and has no readily available effective targeted therapy. Both early and advanced stage estrogen-negative breast tumors are treated predominantly by chemotherapy.
Apart from poor prognosis and modest treatment options, patients with such aggressive breast cancer face twice the risk of mortality as compared to other tumor subtypes. Currently, no reliable blood-based marker exists for estrogen-negative breast tumor prognosis and/or disease monitoring.
The two-year award from Maine Cancer Foundation will focus on developing NOHA as a less-invasive, blood-based indicator for sensitive estrogen-negative breast tumor prognosis in racially distinctive populations. It will be used for early prognosis, screening and neoadjuvant tumor management.
Discussing the impact of the work, UNE Director of Research Administration Nicholas Gere noted, “This research project has the potential to be one of the first at UNE to achieve successful commercialization.”
As principal investigator, Mohan will be conducting the project aims of this grant in collaboration with Maine Medical Center Research Institute researchers Drs. Susan Miesfeldt, Ivette Emery, Christine Duarte, and Peter Brooks; and Maine-based company Maine Biotechnology Services.
“We are thrilled to play an integral part in Mohan’s groundbreaking work,” said Tara Hill, executive director of Maine Cancer Foundation. “The development of a less-invasive means of detecting estrogen-negative breast cancer at its earliest stages has the potential to vastly increase treatment options for women in Maine and beyond. We believe our support will help move this game-changing diagnostic out of the lab and into clinical situations where it will save lives.”
Watch the story on WMTW.
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To learn more about the University of New England’s College of Pharmacy, visit www.une.edu/pharmacy
To apply, visit www.une.edu/admissions