Executive director, 20 other scientists from The Hormel Institute to present at AACR event

AUSTIN, Minn. — Thursday, March 29 — Dr. Zigang Dong, Executive Director of The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota-Mayo Clinic, will help lead a session focused on new approaches to cancer prevention at an upcoming national conference in Chicago.

Dong will join 20 other researchers from The Hormel Institute in presenting their latest discoveries at the American Association of Cancer Research’s 103rd Annual Meeting, which runs from Saturday to Wednesday. Institute scientists will present more than 20 research posters covering work in various areas, including skin, colon, breast, lung and prostate cancer.

AACR’s national conference is considered the premier forum for highlighting the best and latest findings in all major areas of cancer research in an effort to advance the treatment and prevention of the disease. It brings together scientists from backgrounds in basic, translational and clinical cancer research.

“Advancing cancer research to make a positive impact on human health is the goal of a conference such as this,” said Dong, who co-leads the Institute’s Cellular and Molecular Biology section. “Through sharing the best and latest discoveries, investigators can continue to further more effective cancer therapies and prevention strategies.”

On Monday, Dong will serve as co-chairperson with Dr. Ernest T. Hawk of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in leading a session titled, “Novel Approaches to Cancer Chemoprevention.” The session is part of the AACR’s program “Current Concepts and Controversies in Diagnostics, Therapeutics, and Prevention.”

Throughout history, deadly diseases, such as small pox and polio, have been defeated through prevention. Many have argued that the battle against cancer can be won by focusing on cancer prevention, which now has entered the arena of targeted therapies.

During the session, Dong will give a presentation titled, “Molecular-based cancer prevention: Target identification and agent development.”

Three other Institute section leaders – Drs. Shujun Liu, Rebecca Morris and Mohammad Saleem –will present research posters at the AACR conference.

Liu, who brought his Cancer Epigenetics & Experimental Therapeutics section to the Institute last year, will present, “Liposomal bortezomib improves chemosensitivity and inhibits cell proliferation in part through BCR/ABL downregulation in CML.”

Morris, who heads the Stem Cells and Cancer section, will showcase her work, “Bone marrow-derived epithelial cells contribute to chronic skin inflammation and skin tumor formation in the mouse.”

Saleem, leader of the Molecular Chemoprevention and Therapeutics section, will present, “Regulatory role of ROBO-1, a novel tumor suppressor on Androgen receptor and Wnt signaling during castration-resistant prostate cancer development.: A novel molecular target for gene therapy.”

Dr. Xiaolan Guo, a scientist in the Cell Death and Cancer Gentics section led by Dr. Yibin Deng, also has been awarded one of the AACR’s Women In Cancer Research Scholar Awards for her research, “AKT-mTOR pathway mediates mutant p53 gain-of-function by inhibiting autophagy.” She will present a research poster on the same project at the conference.

Other researchers from The Hormel Institute presenting research posters at the AACR meeting include:

  • Dr. Hanyong Chen (Dong lab) – “Computational strategies for finding protein targets of flavonoids.”
  • Dr. Soner Dogan (Cleary lab) – “Mammalian Target of Rapamycin (mTOR) Signaling Proteins are Highly Expressed in Mammary Tumors of MMTV-TGF-α Mice.”
  • Dr. Michael Grossmann (Cleary lab) – “Eicosapentaenoic acid increases mammary tumor inhibition of intermittent calorie restriction and regulates adipokines.”
  • Dr. Dong-Eun Kim (Dong lab) – “Isorhamnetin suppresses skin cancer through direct inhibition of MEK1 and PI3-K.”
  • Dr. Kun Yeong Lee (Dong lab) – “NEK6 promotes JB6 C141 cell transformation and activates STAT3 through its phosphorylation on Ser727.”
  • Dr. MeeHyun Lee (Dong lab) – “(6)-Shogaol inhibits cell growth and induces apoptosis in non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells by regulating multiple targets.”
  • Dr. Xiang Li (Dong lab) – “Phosphorylation of caspase-3 and caspase-7 by p21-activated protein kinase (PAK)2 inhibits chemotherapeutic drug-induced apoptosis of breast cancer cell lines.”
  • Dr. Yan Li (Dong lab) – “Discovery of novel checkpoint kinase 1 inhibitors by virtual screening based on multiple crystal structures.”
  • Dr. Naomi Oi (Dong lab) – “Taxifolin suppresses UV-induced skin carcinogenesis by targeting EGFR and PI3-K.”
  • Dr. Cong Peng (Dong lab) – “Phosphorylation of caspase-8 (Thr263) by ribosomal S6 kinase2(RSK2) mediates caspase-8 ubiquitination and stability.”
  • Dr. Christine Seppanen (Cleary lab) – “Response of serum reactive oxygen species (ROS) to dietary eicosapentaenoic acid and calorie restriction in relation to mammary tumor prevention.”
  • Dr. Hifzur Siddique (Saleem lab) – Two projects: “A novel pathway involving Tcf-driven Bcl2 under regulation of Bmi-1 stem cell factor: Role in chemoresistance” and “Lupeol, a novel inhibitor of Wnt/ß-catenin signaling: Implications in colon cancer therapy.”
  • Dr. Lei Wang (Deng lab) – “Targeting APC mutant colon cancer cells by chloroquine.”
  • Dr. Hua Xiong (Deng lab) – “Selective killing of advanced prostate cancer cells by targeting the Warburg effect and autophagy”
  • Dr. Da-Qing Yang (Cleary lab) – “Activation of AMPK by ATM in Response to AICAR and Metformin.”
  • Dr. Tatyana Zykova (Dong lab) – “TOPK phosphorylation of MKP1 prevents solar ultraviolet irradiation-induced inflammation by inhibiting p38 signaling.

AACR’s conference theme, “Accelerating Science: Concept to Clinic,” reflects the “amazing progress” being made by cancer researchers against the disease and “emphasizes the synergy between basic, clinical, and translational research that will continue to lead to effective cancer therapies and prevention strategies,” according to Dr. Margaret Foti, Chief Executive Officer of AACR.

The Hormel Institute exemplifies this theme through its growing collaborative partnership with Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota to translate its discoveries into medical practice more effectively and efficiently. The trio’s Bioscience Triad partnership was strengthened last fall with the signing of a new agreement.

A $13.5 million bonding request is now before the Minnesota Legislature in an effort to expand The Hormel Institute by adding another 15 labs for research space to further enhance and support the collaboration. The expansion will support a plan to add an additional 120 jobs in research and support staff.

With one of the world’s best scientific publishing records, The Hormel Institute conducts world-renowned cancer research focused on how the disease works and what nontoxic, natural compounds can be used to prevent and control cancer.