Local researchers to discuss their cutting-edge work at American Association of Cancer Research

Several scientists from The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota-Mayo Clinic, will present their cutting-edge work at the upcoming American Association of Cancer Research conference.

The 102nd AACR annual meeting, running from Saturday to Wednesday in Orlando, Fla., showcases the best and latest in cancer research to advance the cause of treating and preventing cancer. It will feature speakers and participants who are leaders in research involving cancer mechanisms, systems approaches to cancer biology, diagnostics and therapeutics; translation of advances to the clinic; and cutting-edge science in the prevention and early interception of cancer.

Many cancer researchers take part in the AACR conference, bringing together scientists from backgrounds in basic, translational and clinical research.

The Hormel Institute, which has a scientific publishing record that remains one of the top in the world, conducts world-renowned cancer research into how the disease works and what nontoxic, natural compounds can be used to prevent, control or cure cancer.

Dr. Margot Cleary, leader of the Nutrition and Metabolism section at The Hormel Institute, will speak Monday in relation to cancer and obesity in a presentation titled, “Factors Associated with Changes in Body Weight and the Protective Effect of Chronic vs. Intermittent Calorie Restriction on Mammary Tumorigenesis.”

Cleary will talk about her section’s consistent finding that the manner in which calories are restricted affects the protective effect of calorie restriction on breast cancer development.

The data show intermittent calorie restriction has a more protective effect than the same caloric reduction implemented in a chronic fashion. In the intermittent calorie restriction protocol, 50 percent restriction periods are followed by periods of free feeding; during chronic restriction, the calories are reduced the same amount every day. Overall, all subjects are restricted by 25 percent.

Her section’s findings indicate that people’s bodies might be better suited for a “feast-or-famine” eating pattern rather than the constant “feast” many people undergo these days. Up until recent times, people probably used to eat in more of a feast-or-famine manner, Cleary said.

“Periods of eating restriction may allow precursor cancer cells to be literally starved to death,” Cleary said.

Dr. Mohammad Saleem, head of the Molecular Chemoprevention and Therapeutics section at The Hormel Institute, also will speak about his prostate cancer research during the AACR meeting. His presentation is titled, “Lupeol, a novel androgen receptor inhibitor acts as a double-edged sword: Competitive binding as well as transcriptional inhibition.”

Lupeol, a chemical constituent found in fruits and vegetables – such as olives, strawberries, grapes, apples, cucumbers and medicinal herbs – qualifies as a potent inhibitor of androgen receptor, which has emerged as a potential molecular target for therapeutic agents because of its crucial role in the development of prostate cancer, according to Saleem’s research team. His lab section suggests that lupeol alone – or as an adjuvant to chemotherapeutic agents – could be developed as a novel therapeutic agent to treat prostate cancer patients with hormone-sensitive as well as hormone refractory disease type.

Dr. Margarita Malakhova, a research assistant professor in the Cellular & Molecular Biology section headed by the Institute’s executive director, Dr. Zigang Dong, has been selected to present during a poster session at the conference. Her abstract scored in the top 2 percent of abstracts presented, and has been designated as a highly rated poster presentation.

In work with colleagues, Malakhova studied norathyriol, an active metabolite of mangiferin, which is one of the polyphenolic compounds found in mangos that has been shown to inhibit rapid cell growth and support cell death against human leukemia as well as lung, breast, colon and prostate cancer cells. Her research indicates that norathyriol might be a potential therapeutic and chemopreventive lead compound for targeting the ERK2 protein kinase in cancer cells. At the conference, Malakhova will present the crystal structure of ERK2 bound with norathyriol.