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A new study on the incidence of breast cancer in Italy has been published in the International Journal of Experimental and Clinical Cancer Research. The authors belong to a multidisciplinary Italian-American team led by Prof. Antonio Giordano, Director of the Sbarro Institute for Cancer Researchand Molecular Medicine College of Science and Technology Temple University of Philadelphia, USA.
"Cancer is also a matter of numbers," says Giordano , internationally renowned oncologist engaged for years in the fight against cancer, who recently launched an appeal — signed by over 500 researchers — to protect the environment from the irresponsible dumping of toxic wastes, carcinogenic waste. "The identification of the precise number of cancer cases at a population level and by geographical area is crucial to orient public health strategies towards cancer prevention and early diagnosis."
In this study, the researchers focused on breast cancer, the most common cancer and leading cause of cancer death in women. Based on data provided by the Italian National Institute of Statistics, 12,195 women died of breast cancer in 2009, compared to 11,476 in 2006. The authors analyzed the national archive of hospital discharge records to estimate the number of interventions, for mastectomy (en bloc removal of the breast) and quadrantectomies (partial removal) performed in Italy for a principal diagnosis of breast cancer from 2001 to 2008.
"Compared to our previous work in 2009, the present study not only expands the timeframe of interest, but it also excludes re-operations performed on the same patient throughout the considered timeframe. In this way, we have enhanced our ability to detect newly diagnosed cases while excluding previously diagnosed cases" — says Dr. Prisco Piscitelli, coordinator of the study.
The data showed that from 2001 to 2008 a total number of 328.888 mastectomies and quadrantectomies were performed (117.762 and 211.126, respectively). The overall number of mastectomies decreased in the time window considered (from 15.754 in 2001 to 14.197 in 2008). However, when analyzing data by age groups, the reduction occurred in women between 45 and 74 years, whereas the number of mastectomies did not significantly change in women between 25 and 44 years. Furthermore, the total number of quadrantectomies increased significantly across all the classes of age considered (from 22.140 in 2001 to 30.800 in 2008).
The analysis by macroareas (ie Northern Italy, Central and Southern) confirmed the reduction of mastectomies, although there were inter-regional discrepancies possibly due to differences in coverage and adherence to screening programs. The quadrantectomies increased significantly, with the highest values in Southern Italy (from 3.812 in 2001 to 6.538 in 2008). The number of surgeries repeated within the same year increased from 4.682 in 2001 to 5.909 in 2008.
According to the report of the Italian Association of Cancer Registries (AIRTUM) 2010: "By the age of eighty-four, on average, 1 man out of 2 and 1 woman out of 2 will be affected by cancer in their lifetime; 1 man out of 3 and 1 woman out of 6 will die for the disease." In this scenario, the development of a cancer surveillance program is crucial to the national and international health policy. In Italy, cancer surveillance mostly relies on the valuable support of Cancer Registries. "Currently, the Italian net of Cancer Registries covers approximately 34% of the national population with significant discrepancies among macroareas (i.e. 50.2%, 25.5% and 17.9%, for Northern, Central and Southern Italy, respectively). On this basis, the exclusive use of cancer registries might limit the ascertainment of the real cancer burden" says Dr. Maddalena Barba, senior researcher at the Regina Elena Cancer Institute in Rome.
“This study aims to develop new tools able to complement the activity of cancer registries in the health surveillance of neoplastic diseases. Our results encourage the use of the data from the archive of the national hospital discharge records for the identification of breast cancer patients who underwent surgery (quadrantectomy and/or mastectomy). This is consistent with what happens in the United States, where, similarly to Italy, there is a need to integrate the health monitoring activities carried out by the SEER (Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program) with the use of additional databases.” clarifies and concludes Prof. Antonio Giordano, creator of this study project.
Cristian Gutierrez awarded NSF grant
Professor Cristian Gutierrez was awarded (as sole PI) a new three-year NSF grant, Monge-Ampere-type equations and geometric optics, for $270,000. From the abstract: "The research pursued in this project arises naturally in the design of optical devices (e.g., aspherical lenses, mirrors, antennas) that have multiple applications in the construction of many optical and transmission instruments. A large portion of the problems under study have practical interest, for example, in the design of lenses focusing light into a desired targeted destination. The impact of the project lies in the development of a mathematical theory that would render this design more efficient, precise, and easily and quickly adaptable to changing situations."
Vasily Dolgushev awarded NSF grant
Associate Professor Vasily (Vasiliy) Dolgushev was awarded (as sole PI) a new three-year NSF grant, Puzzles of homotopy algebras related to deformation theory, for $257,800. From the abstract: "Homotopy algebras appear in various problems of algebraic topology, algebraic geometry, deformation theory, and mathematical physics. The PI's work on homotopy algebras is motivated by quantization: a process of constructing quantum versions of models of classical mechanics. The project will enhance our understanding of fundamental principles which underpin quantum theory and their links to other branches of mathematics."
Martin Lorenz awarded new NSA grant
Professor Martin Lorenz was awarded a new two-year research grant from the National Security Agency, Noncommutative Algebras and Transformation Groups, for $84,652
Inactivation of the retinoblastoma tumor suppressor protein (pRb) by phosphorylation triggers uncontrolled cell proliferation. Accordingly, activation of cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK)/cyclin complexes or downregulation of CDK inhibitors appears as a common event in human cancer.
Now, a new study from the Sbarro Health Research Organization shows that Pin1 (protein interacting with NIMA (never in mitosis) A-), a peptidylprolyl isomerase involved in the control of protein phosphorylation, is an essential mediator for inactivation of the pRB. The findings, published in Cell Death and Differentiation, have important implications for cancer treatment.
“Our findings suggest that the synergism among CDK and Pin1 inhibitors holds great promise for targeted pharmacological treatment of cancer patients with the possibility of reaching high effectiveness at tolerated doses,” said Flavio Rizzolio, lead author of the study.
“pRb is one of the most important tumor suppressor genes,” says Antonio Giordano, founder and director of the Sbarro Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine. “Understanding the role of Pin1 helps to further clarify the molecular network. “
The researchers identify a new mechanism for pRb inactivation, independent from CDKs and phosphatases. By altering pRb accessibility, Pin1 modifies the activity of CDKs. In such a context, Pin1 thus represents a new therapeutic target that, alone or in combination with CDK inhibitors, may provide a means to limit cancer cell growth via negative modulation of pRb phosphorylation.
“Our study presents, for the first time, a new, detailed mechanism of pRb phosphorylation and suggests a novel approach of treating cancer patients by utilizing Pin1 inhibitors in combination with or without CDK inhibitors,” says Rizzolio.
Zebrafish may lack the charms of a house cat, but Danio rerio is ideal for understanding genetic control of development and, ultimately, human disease. Touchpoint explores how Biology's Darius Balciunas uses insertional mutagenesis to explore the cardiovascular system.
Assistant Professor Benjamin Seibold is PI, and Postdoctoral Research Assistant Professor Prince Chidyagwai is co-PI, on new NSF grant Numerical approaches for incompressible viscous flows with high order accuracy up to the boundary. The award is $299,922. From abstract: “In many applications in science and engineering, accurate and efficient computation of forces and stresses at boundaries between fluids and solids is of crucial importance. Examples in which boundary forces (in the form of lift and drag) are key quantities of interest are designs of airplane wings, motor vehicles and wind turbines, as well as simulation of sedimentation in stratified fluids and bio-locomotion. Investigators are researching new methodologies and implementations of approaches that allow for highly accurate computation of boundary forces.”
Professor Daniel Szyld is PI, and Postdoctoral Research Assistant Professor Fei Xue is co-PI, on the new NSF grant, Eigenvalues problems, Krylov subspace methods, and subspace recycling. The award is $280,000. From abstract: “Problems to be studied include efficient computation of a group of eigenvalues and solution of sequences of linear systems. Eigenvalue calculations include analysis of vibration frequencies in structures including buildings, to make sure, for example, that they are far from the earthquake band. Fast algorithms for generalized eigenvalue problems also contribute to the design and analysis of electronic integrated circuit and micro-electro-mechanical systems, and the detection of potential presence of turbulent fluid flows. Efficient solution of a sequence of linear systems facilitates modeling of fatigue and fracture via finite element analysis, and the stability analysis of linear systems through the solution of Riccati equations.”
Two CST researchers, Mark Feitelson and Rodrigo Andrade, have each received grants through the Temple University Drug Discovery initiative. The funding supports collaborative research with the Moulder Center for Drug Discovery Research in the School of Pharmacy. The projects were selected through an internal competition to identify promising research on new therapeutics that can be used to treat human diseases.
Proposals were evaluated on the following criteria: scientific merit/rationale; likelihood of the target translating to or impacting on a human disease state; likelihood of project transitioning to a viable drug discovery project; likelihood of the completed project qualifying for additional, external funding; and likelihood of producing intellectual property leading to commercialization. CST’s awarded projects are:
Development of New Therapeutics against the Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) Encoded Oncoprotein, HBx, Targeting Virus Replication and Associated Diseases
PI: Mark Feitelson, Professor of Biology
Hepatitis B (HBV) is a significant health issue, especially in developing countries. Only one mechanistic target has been exploited in the design of HBV treatments, namely the inhibition of virus polymerases. These drugs only target replicating virus and cannot affect the latent virus, which can lie dormant in the host for many years. Given the likelihood that HBV will eventually develop resistance to these drugs, it is essential that new therapies be developed. The purpose of the proposed project is to identify molecules that inhibit the activities of the latent and replicating hepatitis B virus.
Discovery of Natural Product-Based Drugs to Overcome MDR
PI: Rodrigo Andrade, Assistant Professor of Chemistry
Multiple drug resistance (MDR) is a common and increasing problem in cancer therapy. The purpose of this project is to synthesize and evaluate natural product-based small molecules that reverse MDR in cancer cells and tumors. The long-term goal of this project is to develop safe and effective drugs to overcome MDR.
November 9, 2010
Professor Giordano and Silvia Lapenna were featured in the August 2010 fast breaking paper on Science Watch for their research on cell cycle kinases as therapeutic targets for cancer. More information.
October 19, 2010
Professor Longin Latecki has received NSF funding for his project "CDI-Type II: Collaborative Research: Perception of Scene Layout by Machines and Visually Impaired Users." "Cyber-Enabled Discovery and Innovation (CDI) is NSF’s bold five-year initiative to create revolutionary science and engineering research outcomes made possible by innovations and advances in computational thinking.” The award provides
$1,270,000 for the period of October 10, 2010 to
September 30, 2014. From the abstract: "
The project investigates computational methods for object detection, spatial scene construction, and natural language spatial descriptions derived from real-time visual images to describe prototypical indoor spaces (e.g., rooms, offices, etc.). The primary application of this research is to provide blind or visually impaired users with spatial information about their surroundings that may otherwise be difficult to obtain from non-visual sensing. Such knowledge will assist in development of accurate cognitive models of the environment and will support better informed execution of spatial behaviors in everyday tasks."
October 18, 2010
The Department of Mathematics has received four new grants from the National Science Foundation.
Professor Shiferaw Berhanu has received NSF funding for his project “Semilinear and Nonlinear Pdes Motivated by Complex Variables and CR Manifolds and the Bochner Extension Phenomenon.” The award provides $134,705 for the period July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2013. From the abstract: “This project involves the study of semilinear partial differential equations in the plane and systems of linear and nonlinear partial differential equations in higher dimensions. The research in this project is expected to have applications to partial differential equations and geometry."
Assistant professor Benjamin Seibold has received NSF funding for his project, “Phantom Traffic Jams, Continuum Modeling, and Connections With Detonation Wave Theory.” The award provides $107,340 for the period September 1, 2010 to August 31, 2013. From the abstract: "A ''phantom'' traffic jam is a small congestion in vehicular traffic that occurs spontaneously, in the absence of bottlenecks, obstacles, or any discernible causes on the road. In this project, the behavior of phantom traffic jams and jamitons (traffic jam waves) is studied."
Assistant professor David Futer has received NSF funding for his project grant for his project “Hyperbolic Geometry of Knots and 3-Manifolds.” The award provides for $112,096 for the period September 1, 2010 to August 31, 2013. From the abstract: " One central question left unanswered by Perelman's geometrization theorem is exactly how the combinatorial features of a 3-manifold should relate to its geometry. A 3-manifold is a space where an object such as a helicopter can move around in three distinct perpendicular directions. The principal investigators will study several aspects of this question.”
Associate professor Yury Grabovsky has received NSF funding for his project “Stability and Macroscopic Properties Of Heterogeneous Media.” The award provides $102,641for the period of August 1, 2010 to July 31, 2011. From the abstract: "The investigator studies problems related to composite materials, martensitic phase transformations, and morphological stability in materials. One aim of this project is to understand elastic properties of fiber-reinforced elastic composites. Another aim of the project is to understand instabilities in models of non-linear elasticity and shape memory alloys”.
September 7, 2010
Physics Professor C. J. Martoff is the principal investigator of two new multi-year grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF). This first is a two-year, $757,000 grant from the NSF Academic Research Initiative of the DNDO (Domestic Nuclear Detection Office). Martoff, along with Chemistry professors Mike Zdilla and Robert Stanley, will conduct research to develop a "green" liquid scintillator, a water-based alternative to toxic, flammable liquids, used in field and laboratory detectors for nuclear radiation.
The second, three-year NSF grant for $343,000, will support Professor Martoff's work on the Darkside project, a collaboration of approximately 20 US and foreign institutions led by Princeton University, to search for galactic dark matter by direct detection using a large liquid argon time projection chamber.
April 26, 2010
The Department of Computer and Information Sciences Chair, Jie Wu and professor Yuan Shi, Mathematics professor Igor Rivin, Chemistry professor Michael Klein and Electrical Engineering professor Saroj Biswas have received a grant from the National Science Foundation to acquire a high performance supercomputer cluster using the latest computer technology to advance scientific research in several disciplines. Their project, entitled "MRI-R2: Acquisition: A Hybrid High-Performance GPU/CPU System." will greatly enhance the computing resources at Temple in order to carry out intensive computational applications in many disciplines. The award provides $839,221 for the period of May 1, 2010 through April 30, 2013. More information.
April 12, 2010
Mathematics interim chair Edward Letzter has received a grant from the National Security Agency for his project "Complete Noncommutative Algebras." The award provides $65,000 for a two-year period and will focus on "the structure of certain natural, noncommutative analogues of classical, commutative, formal power series rings. Noncommutative power series expansions arise in mathematical physics, noncommutative geometry, combinatorics, and number theory.''
April 8, 2010
Chemistry chair Robert Levis and physics professor Xiaoxing Xi received funding through the Department of Defense's 2010 Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP). The program " supports the purchase of state-of-the-art equipment that augments current university capabilities or develops new university capabilities to perform cutting-edge defense research." Levis was funded for his project "Picosecond Laser for Stand-Off Detection of Explosives" and Xi was funded for his project "Fabrication of Magnesium Diboride (MgB2) Josephson Junctions and Circuits."
April 8, 2010
Physics professor Xiaoxing Xi has received a grant award from the Los Alamos National Laboratory for his project "Effects of Strain on Superconductivity in lron Pnictide Thin Films." The award provides $60,000 for the period March 8, 2010 through January 31, 2011.