The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has awarded the Siteman Cancer Center and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis a prestigious Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant in endometrial cancer.
Endometrial cancer, which forms in the tissue lining the uterus, is the most common gynecologic cancer. Last year, about 42,000 women were diagnosed with the disease and almost 8,000 women with endometrial cancer died.
The majority of women diagnosed with endometrial cancer are 45 years or older.
The prognosis of surviving endometrial cancer is good when the disease is detected and treated early. However, if the cancer has spread from the uterus, the chances to treat it successfully are small.
The goal of SPORE grants is to implement a strong collaboration between basic scientists and clinicians. The three-year, $1.7 million SPORE grant in endometrial cancer brings together School of Medicine experts in genomics, diagnostics and developmental therapeutics to tackle research projects that can be translated quickly into improved detection and treatment of this type of cancer. This research involves both cancer patients and populations at risk for cancer.
“Washington University School of Medicine/Siteman Cancer Center received this SPORE in endometrial cancer because we have some of the nation’s leading experts in gynecologic cancer research and care,” says Paul Goodfellow, Ph.D., principal investigator of the SPORE grant and professor of surgery at the School of Medicine. Goodfellow also is co-director of the Hereditary Cancer Core at the Siteman Cancer Center. “In the past, research on endometrial cancer has not been well-funded, and progress in treating the disease has been slower than for other malignancies. This support will enable our experts to gain new insight into the disease and rapidly advance clinical care of endometrial cancer.”
The SPORE grant involves four projects that focus on new approaches to identifying and treating endometrial and related cancers. The NCI expects that each research project has the potential to be a clinical trial or a clinical test within five years.
The goal of one project is to see if a molecularly targeted therapy will improve the treatment of patients with persistent or recurrent endometrial cancer. Another project is developing prognostic markers to help guide the treatment of women with the most common form of uterine tumors. A third project seeks to detect more women with inherited forms of endometrial cancer so they and their families can receive intensified cancer screenings. The final project will look for unique features of endometrial cancer that could be potential drug targets.
“Dr. Goodfellow and I are honored to receive this grant and are grateful for the support of Washington University, the Siteman Cancer Center, Dean Larry Shapiro and Drs. Timothy Eberlein and George Macones in this effort,” says David G. Mutch, M.D., co-principal investigator of the SPORE grant and the Ira C. and Judith Gall Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology. “We hope the targeted treatments that are discovered and tested in the project will result in new, effective treatments for patients.”
The Siteman Cancer Center is the combined, cancer-related programs of Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine. It is the only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center within a 225-mile radius of St. Louis.
Washington University School of Medicine’s 2,100 employed and volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching and patient care institutions in the nation, currently ranked third in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.