Hormel Institute gets $571K grant for cancer research

Published 9:58 am Thursday, June 2, 2011

A $571,875 grant to study breast cancer has been awarded to Dr. Joshua Liao, leader of the Translational Cancer Research section at The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic.

Funded through April 2013, the two-year grant from the U.S. Department of Defense is focused on RNA chimeras, as a novel gene signature of breast cancer. Chimeric RNA is a transcript formed by the fusing of two different genes’ transcripts. This project will provide the first comprehensive list of breast cancer specific RNA chimeras. Many of these chimeras may show increased or decreased expression in breast cancer and will be used to establish the world’s first DNA oligo chip microarray.

“This study is highly innovative,” Liao said, “and the resulting data will not only deepen our understanding of breast cancer biology but also have clinical values.”

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This chip array, Liao says, should be a better molecular signature of breast cancer compared to other gene signatures, such as microRNA or cDNA microarrays. The hope is that it will make for a better tool for diagnosing breast cancer as well as monitoring prognosis or treatment efficacy, he said.