Public Release: 

UCI Cancer Center selected by National Cancer Institute to test cancer prevention drugs

Center among six institutions nationwide chosen for $42-million program to advance and evaluate cancer research

University of California - Irvine

Irvine, Calif., Nov. 6, 2003 - The Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center at UC Irvine has been chosen by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to test the effectiveness of promising new cancer prevention drugs.

The UCI center is one of only six institutions in the nation chosen by NCI to conduct these tests. Under the program, the center will initially receive $2.2 million to design and conduct early-phase clinical trials to assess the cancer prevention potential of a variety of agents, many of which target specific molecules known to be active in precancerous conditions.

Altogether, NCI will award over $42 million in contracts to fund the projects.

"The UCI Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center has been successfully undertaking cancer prevention trials for the past decade, so this current effort is an extension of our overall mission," said Dr. Frank Meyskens, Jr., director of the center. "With this remarkable amount of funding and support from NCI, we can make a big difference in advancing our ability to prevent cancer."

Along with UCI, the other participating institutions are the University of Arizona in Tucson, Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and the Mayo Clinic Foundation in Rochester, Minn.

"Each of these institutions was selected based on its proven ability to conduct cancer prevention research," said Dr. Peter Greenwald, director of NCI's Division of Cancer Prevention. "We are looking forward to this next round of work on critical early phase trials of new agents and their biological effects."

Overall, the UCI center currently receives more than $14 million in grants and contracts to conduct chemoprevention trials. Current studies include testing vaccines that can attack cervical cancer-causing viruses and participating in locally led efforts on prostate, oral and colon cancer prevention, as well as participating in national trials.

Chemoprevention is the use of natural or synthetic substances to reduce the risk of developing cancers or to reduce the chance of cancer recurring.

"One goal of the National Cancer Institute is to lower the mortality rate of cancer patients," Dr. Meyskens said. "And one of the most effective ways to do this is to treat the causes of cancer before the onset of illness. Not only is this a cost-effective way of addressing cancer, but it helps at-risk people lead longer, healthier lives."

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About the Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center

Located on the UCI Medical Center campus, the Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center is affiliated with the UCI College of Medicine. As a university-based facility, it offers the expertise of a scientific community that has earned an international reputation for its work in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Designated as a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute, the center is one of only 39 facilities nationwide to attain this recognition. To learn more about its clinical research trials, see www.ucihs.uci.edu/cancer.

About the University of California, Irvine

The University of California, Irvine is a top-ranked public university dedicated to the principles of research, scholarship and community. Founded in 1965, UCI is among the fastest-growing University of California campuses, with more than 24,000 undergraduate and graduate students and about 1,300 faculty members. The third-largest employer in dynamic Orange County, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $3 billion.

UCI maintains an online directory of faculty available as experts to the media. To access, visit: www.today.uci.edu/experts.

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