Cancer is the second leading cause of death after heart disease. Although there have been impressive advances in treatment for cancer that have led to longer life expectancy, there is no cure for advanced stage cancers. In addition, currently used therapeutics are associated with adverse side effects during treatment. Chemotherapeutic treatment is further associated with development of chronic neuropathic pain that persists after the chemotherapy is ceased. Therefore, continued research on alternative therapeutic options for cancer is of paramount importance. Research programs at UNECOM are exploring interactions between the immune system and cancer growth and metastases of breast cancer. In addition, research is being performed with the goal of improving the quality of life of cancer patients suffering from pain due to tumor metastases to the bone. Current treatments consist of opioids such as morphine and fentanyl and are not entirely effective and are associated with severe adverse side effects. The goal of the cancer research programs at UNECOM are to develop novel and effective treatment options targeting cancer through the immune-cancer interactions as well as to improve quality of life of cancer patients suffering from cancer-induced bone pain.
Research programs at UNECOM in the area of metabolic diseases focuses on: 1) insulin resistance and diabetes; 2) cardiovascular disease; and 3) medication-induced metabolic disease. Insulin resistance and diabetes are associated with obesity and other environmental factors and are significant risk factors for cardiovascular diseases. Mood disorders such as depression, anxiety and psychosis are associated with a 2-6 fold increase in metabolic diseases such as diabetes and osteoporosis. Indeed, medications to treat these mood disorders can also increase the risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and overall metabolic risk. Research is ongoing at UNE that focuses on endocrine, nutritional and pharmacological mechanisms underlying insulin resistance, cardiac function and bone health.