A $425,000 federal grant is coming to The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota-Mayo Clinic, to support research into the effectiveness of potential agents for preventing certain types of cancer.

The National Cancer Institute, part of the federal government’s National Institutes of Health, approved the eight-month grant this week for The Hormel Institute’s Associate Director, Dr. Ann Bode, who is the project’s principal investigator. Executive Director Dr. Zigang Dong and Bode co-lead the Cellular and Molecular Biology section, the largest laboratory at The Hormel Institute.

Under the grant, Bode’s research team will use cell culture (maintenance and growth of cells outside the body) to investigate the effects of potential chemo-preventive, anti-cancer agents. The team will identify specific biomarkers to reflect mechanistic changes (how the anti-cancer agents affect how the cells work) also relevant to chemoprevention.

“This project focuses on the development and testing of specific drugs provided by the National Cancer Institute for cancer treatment and prevention,” Bode said. “Specifically, we will be testing their effectiveness in treating and preventing breast and colon cancer.”

One of the major goals, Bode said, is to identify biomarkers that can predict the effectiveness of the drug in specific types of cancer patients in order to optimize treatment and efficacy.

“We are on a very tight and competitive timeline to complete most of the work within one year” said Bode, who along with Dong, is published regularly in the world’s top cancer journals, including a featured cover article in 2010 in Cancer Research (the top cancer research journal in the United States) and a recent publication (March 2011) in one of the world’s highest impact cancer journals, Nature Reviews Cancer.

The Hormel Institute is a world-renowned medical research center that specializes in researching nontoxic, natural compounds that can be used to prevent, control or cure cancer. It comprises a group of highly successful medical scientists who have focused their efforts on determining the basic molecular mechanisms of cancer development to use their finding for developing new anti-cancer agents.