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Rutgers Cancer Institute of NJ Resident Receives $1.8M Grant to Explore Chronic Stress Role in Cancer Development

Wenwei Hu, Ph.D.

Wenwei Hu, Ph.D.

New Brunswick, NJ, January 28, 2017 — A five-year, $1.8 million grant (R01CA203965) from the National Cancer Institute awarded to Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey resident research member Wenwei Hu, Ph.D., will support research to further elucidate the mechanisms behind the most frequently mutated gene in human tumors – p53.

The aim is to explore how chronic stress impacts cancer development, especially when cancers containing a mutation in p53, and identify molecular targets that would disrupt the effect of chronic stress on cancer development.

The p53 protein plays a central role in preventing cancer development, as loss of its tumor suppressor function has been shown to contribute greatly to cancer development.

Dr. Hu, who is part of Rutgers Cancer Institute’s Genome Instability and Cancer Genetics Research Program, said, “Mutated p53 proteins often accumulate to high levels in tumors leading to increased activities that can increase tumor development.”

Preliminary data by our team suggest that chronic stress promotes this accumulation.  Through our work, we aim to learn more about how mutated p53 proteins are stabilized in tumors in order to block the accumulation of mutated p53 in these tumors,”

Hu and colleagues will utilize a well-established laboratory model that mimics chronic stress in humans to examine the regulation of p53 by chronic stress and neurohormones that are elevated during stressful periods.

“With more than 50 percent of all human tumors harboring p53 mutations, it is critical to identify the underlying molecular mechanism of this protein at the mutant form,” adds Hu, who is an associate professor of radiation oncology at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

“In identifying molecular targets that impact stress signaling,” Dr. Hu said, “there is an opportunity to develop novel therapies to treat those with mutated p53 cancers.”

About Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey

Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey (www.cinj.org) is the state’s first and only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center.  As part of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Rutgers Cancer Institute is dedicated to improving the detection, treatment and care of patients with cancer, and to serving as an education resource for cancer prevention both at its flagship New Brunswick location and at its Newark campus at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey at University Hospital.

Physician-scientists across Rutgers Cancer Institute also engage in translational research, transforming their laboratory discoveries into clinical practice that supports patients on both campuses. To make a tax-deductible gift to support the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, call 848-932-8013 or visit www.cinj.org/giving.  Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TheCINJ.

The Cancer Institute of New Jersey Network is comprised of hospitals throughout the state and provides the highest quality cancer care and rapid dissemination of important discoveries into the community.

Flagship Hospital: Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. System Partner: Meridian Health (Jersey Shore University Medical Center, Ocean Medical Center, Riverview Medical Center, Southern Ocean Medical Center, and Bayshore Community Hospital). Affiliate Hospitals: JFK Medical Center, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton (CINJ Hamilton), and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset.