Three University of Texas Dallas faculty members – Associate Professor Jie Zheng, Assistant Professor Zhenpeng Qin and Professor Li Zhang – have received $1.3 million in research grants over the past few months from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.
Each of these researchers is working to
better diagnose, treat and prevent cancer.
“The blood-brain barrier is a sophisticated
structure that gives an optimal environment for brain function but also
severely limits the penetration of anti-cancer drugs,” Qin, who received $200,000, said. “The goal of our project is to develop a novel
approach to open the blood-brain barrier and allow the access of a wide range
of therapeutic drugs to brain tumor cells.”
Zheng also received $200,000 for his
project, which seeks to improve chemotherapy-based treatments, minimizing their
side effects by using gold nanoparticles. His particular focus is on a subtype of
breast cancer that is aggressive and difficult to treat because it lacks three
receptors that are targeted in typical breast cancer treatments.
Zhang received $900,000 for her work on drug-resistant lung tumors.
“We want to find out to what extent drug resistance is linked to changes in tumor blood vessels, the state of oxygenation, and the levels of heme and respiratory functions that are vital for cellular energy generation,” Zhang said. “We also want to find out the extent to which inhibiting respiratory function in cells can delay or arrest the growth of lung tumors at various stages of tumor development.”