Major retrovirus study awarded $8.6 million

Published on November 19, 2014
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Thanks to an $8.6 million program project grant from the National Cancer Institute, experts at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine’s Center for Retrovirus Research are investigating retroviral forms of cancer in a five-year study, “Retrovirus Models of Cancer.”

The multidisciplinary and multiinstitutional team, led by the center’s director and the project’s principal investigator, Dr. Patrick Green, aims to reach a greater understanding of the viral, cellular, and microenvironmental factors that influence the development of cancer, which could possibly lead to new diagnostic methods and treatment options.

Dr. Green will lead the first project of the center’s initiative, which is investigating various methods by which specific RNA and proteins—alone or in combination—contribute to the survival and malignant transformation of human T-cell leukemia virus type 1. The extensive knowledge that the center already has on HTLV-1 will be applied throughout the research project.

The second project, led by Lee Ratner, MD, of Washington University in St. Louis, and performed in collaboration with Dr. Green, hypothesizes that tax activation of NF-B expression, particularly through the alternative NF-kB pathway, is critical for tumorigenesis. This project will test this hypothesis and identify and characterize tax-interactive proteins that mediate alternative NF-kB activation.

Finally, in the third project, Dr. Thomas Rosol of The Ohio State and Katherine Weilbaecher, MD, of Washington University will combine their expertise and focus on how the bone microenvironment—in particular, the hedgehog and Wnt pathways—contributes to adult T-cell leukemia development and progression. This work takes into consideration not only the extrinsic factors in the bone microenvironment but also how the microenvironment influences, or is influenced by, tax and Hbz signal transduction.

The Center for Retrovirus Research’s work includes examining the composition, pathogenesis, and development of retroviruses as well as analyzing the many issues surrounding the prevention and treatment of retroviral diseases in both human and nonhuman animals.

The National Cancer Institute has awarded two other five-year grants to the veterinary college, the first being in 2003. This year’s stipend brings the NCI’s total contribution to more than $29.5 million, which is the largest single grant in the veterinary college’s history.