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Department of Defense Awards Grant to Fox Chase Cancer Center Researcher; Elizabeth Henske, M.D., To Receive $399,000 to Study Inherited Disease

PHILADELPHIA (May 7, 2003) — Fox Chase Cancer Center researcher Elizabeth P. Henske, M.D., of Rydal, has been awarded a $398,751 grant by the Department of Defense to study genes associated with tuberous sclerosis complex.

Tuberous sclerosis complex, or TSC, is a genetic disorder that leads to benign tumors in multiple organs, including the brain, kidneys, heart, eyes, lungs and other organs. Progressive growth of the tumors in the brain and kidney lesions constitute the major cause of morbidity and death in adults with tuberous sclerosis. In addition, growth of skin lesions may be disfiguring. TSC patients also have seizures, often beginning in the first months of life. The condition can result in mental retardation or neurobehavioral problems. It is estimated that nearly 50,000 people in the United States and more than 1 million worldwide have TSC.

TSC is caused by mutations in two genes, TSC1 and TSC2. "These genes make two protein products called, hamartin and tuberin," explains Henske, a member of the medical science division at Fox Chase Cancer Center and a leading researcher of TSC. "These two proteins bind to each other within the cell. In order to develop specific treatments for TSC, it is critical to understand the functions of hamartin and tuberin."

The grant from the Department of Defense's Tuberous Sclerosis Complex Research Program will fund research into the function of these two proteins.

Currently, there are no specific treatments for TSC. "TSC and cancer have some similarities," says Henske. "Research suggests that certain biologic therapies being developed for cancer patients may be effective for TSC patients, and understanding the functions of the TSC proteins may help us understand how cancer develops."

The Department of Defense grant is part of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs ( which administers funds for peer reviewed research directed toward specific diseases and supports research that positively impacts the health and well-being of all Americans.

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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