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New DOD Grant Funds Innovative Ovarian Cancer Research at Fox Chase Cancer Center Including Preclinical Testing of Celecoxib for Prevention

PHILADELPHIA (June 15, 2004) -- Christos Patriotis, PhD, a molecular oncologist in Fox Chase Cancer Center's medical science division, has received an Idea Development Award from the Department of Defense Ovarian Cancer Research Program. The three-year grant will provide a total of $635,729 for innovative research on the mechanisms and chemoprevention of ovarian cancer. Cancer chemoprevention uses various drugs or natural substances to reduce cancer risk, just as medicines and dietary changes help people control high blood pressure.

"My laboratory has modified and improved a previously developed animal model to investigate how ovarian cancer develops and to understand its various stages, from premalignant to early and advanced malignancies," said Patriotis. "We will use this rat model, first, to determine the molecular genetic mechanisms underlying the development of ovarian tumors. Then we will conduct a preclinical trial to determine how effective the drug celecoxib is in preventing the appearance or progression of ovarian tumors in the rats."

Celecoxib (the Pharmacia product Celebrex) is a non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). This class of drugs includes popular over-the-counter pain relievers such as aspirin and ibuprofen (but not acetaminophen, or Tylenol, which works differently).

NSAIDs block the COX-2 enzyme. Research shows that COX-2 is over-expressed in many types of tumors, including ovarian and colon cancers, and appears to have a role in cancer progression.

"We want to verify the usefulness of celecoxib for preventing ovarian cancer in animals. This will allow us to design a clinical prevention trial for women -- namely those with a defined risk of ovarian cancer such as those with high risk on the basis of genetic predisposition or family history of breast and ovarian cancer, as well as women that have undergone infertility treatments or hormone replacement therapy and are at a low to moderate risk."

Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cancer and the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths in American women. An estimated 25,580 new cases will be diagnosed and about 16,090 women will die of the disease in 2004, according to the American Cancer Society. When ovarian cancer is diagnosed early, the survival rate approaches 95 percent, but most cases are not identified until late stages, when the survival rate drops to significantly percent or less.

To improve patient survival, researchers at Fox Chase and elsewhere are directing intensive efforts toward improving early detection and prevention of ovarian cancer. Fox Chase is the only cancer center in Pennsylvania to hold a National Cancer Institute grant for a Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) in ovarian cancer-one of four first awarded to NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers in 1999.

The Department of Defense grant is part of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs, which administer funds for peer-reviewed research directed toward specific diseases and support research that positively affects the health and well-being of all Americans. The DOD Ovarian Cancer Research Program supports innovative, integrated, multidisciplinary research efforts that will lead to better understanding, detection, diagnosis, prevention, and control of ovarian cancer. The Congressional appropriation for FY2004 year is $10 million. For further information please visit:

Fox Chase Cancer Center, part of the Temple University Health System, is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence four consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach.  For more information, call 1-888-FOX CHASE or (1-888-369-2427).

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