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Watercress Extract Detoxifies Carcinogens in Smokers, Clinical Trial Demonstrates

Watercress extract taken multiple times a day significantly inhibits the activation of a tobacco-derived carcinogen in cigarette smokers, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI), partner with UPMC CancerCenter, demonstrated in a phase II clinical trial presented today at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting in New Orleans.

The trial also showed that the extract detoxifies environmental carcinogens and toxicants found in cigarette smoke, and that the effect is stronger in people who lack certain genes involved in processing carcinogens. This trial was supported by a grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

“Cigarette smokers are at far greater risk than the general public for developing lung cancer, and helping smokers quit should be our top cancer prevention priority in these people,” said Jian-Min Yuan, MD, PhD, associate director of the UPCI’s Division of Cancer Control and Population Science and an epidemiologist with Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health. “But nicotine is very addictive, and quitting can take time and multiple relapses. Having a tolerable, nontoxic treatment, like watercress extract, that can protect smokers against cancer would be an incredibly valuable tool in our cancer-fighting arsenal.”

Dr. Yuan, who also is Pitt’s Arnold Palmer Endowed Chair in Cancer Prevention, and his colleagues enrolled 82 cigarette smokers in the randomized clinical trial. The participants either took 10 milligrams of watercress extract mixed in 1 milliliter of olive oil four times a day for a week or they took a placebo. Each group of participants then had a one week “wash-out” period where they didn’t take anything and then switched so that those getting the placebo now received the extract. They all continued their regular smoking habits throughout the trial.

In one week, the watercress extract reduced activation of the carcinogen known as nicotine-derived nitrosamine ketone in the smokers by an average of 7.7 percent. It increased detoxification of benzene by 24.6 percent and acrolein by 15.1 percent, but had no effect on crotonaldehyde. All the substances are found in cigarette smoke.

Participants who lacked two genes involved in a genetic pathway that helps the antioxidant glutathione remove carcinogens and toxicants from the body saw an even bigger benefit to taking the watercress extract, which increased their detoxification of benzene by 95.4 percent, acrolein by 32.7 percent and crotonaldehyde by 29.8 percent.

A phase III clinical trial in hundreds of people must be performed before the treatment could be recommended for smokers, and Dr. Yuan warned that while eating cruciferous vegetables, such as watercress and broccoli, is good for people, they are unlikely to have the same pronounced effect as the extract.

Additional researchers on this project are Irina Stepanov, PhD, Sharon E. Murphy, PhD, Steven G. Carmella, BA, Heather H. Nelson, PhD, Dorothy Hatsukami, PhD, and Stephen S. Hecht, PhD, all of the University of Minnesota.

This research was funded by NCI grant R01CA122244.

Four Young Researchers from the Same UPCI Lab Receive AACR Scholar-in-Training Awards

Four young investigators from the same laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, partner with UPMC CancerCenter,  have been recognized with American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) scholar-in-training awards for AACR’s annual meeting in New Orleans, April 16 to 20.

“I am delighted the efforts of my students have been so successful and look forward to the next steps they take in their promising research careers,” said lab leader Shivendra Singh, PhD, professor of pharmacology and chemical biology, and UPMC Chair in Cancer Prevention Research, Pitt School of Medicine. His lab focuses on examining enzymes that play a role in drug metabolism and cellular defenses against environmental toxins, as well as exploring the anti-carcinogenic effects of certain natural agents found in edible plants.

Three researchers received scholar-in training awards in memory of Dr. Lee W. Wattenberg, a pioneer in cancer prevention research, who served as AACR president in 1992. According to AACR, these awards are presented to young investigators presenting high-quality papers relating to cancer prevention research.

Those awardees are:

Su Hyeong Kim, PhD: “Role of c-Myc in prostate cancer stem-like cell inhibition by sulforaphane” (Abstract 822).

In this project, Dr. Kim showed that sulforaphane, which naturally occurs in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, can inhibit prostate cancer in lab tests because it blocks the effects of c-Myc, a gene that regulates cancer growth. This investigation was supported by grant CA115498 of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health.

Subrata K. Pore, PhD: “Benzyl isothiocyanate inhibits breast cancer-induced osteoclastogenesis” (Abstract 826).

Dr. Pore and colleagues built on previous work showing that benzyl isothiocyanate (BITC), found in edible cruciferous vegetables such as garden cress, inhibits breast cancer in a mouse model of the disease. In advanced breast cancer, bone loss can occur, which can be deadly with spreading disease. In this project, the team showed that BITC can limit bone breakdown by reducing the production of bone-resorbing cells called osteoclasts. This study was supported by NCI grant CA129347.

Krishna Beer Singh, PhD: “c-Myc is a novel target of prostate cancer cell growth inhibition by honokiol” (Abstract 831).

Dr. Singh led a project that showed honokiol, a naturally occurring agent derived from magnolia trees, suppressed activity of c-Myc and other genes that play key roles in prostate cancer growth. This study was supported by NCI grants CA101753 and CA115498.

In addition, a fourth researcher from the Singh Lab received a $1,500 AACR-Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation scholar-in-training award.

Ruchi Roy, PhD: “Benzyl isothiocyanate mediates glucose uptake through AKT activation in breast cancer cells” (Abstract 833).

Dr. Roy showed in animal models that BITC’s effects in suppressing Her-2-driven breast tumors could be enhanced with the addition of an agent that inhibits the protein AKT. This study was supported by NCI grant CA129347.

Pitt-led International Panel Reclassifies Thyroid Tumor to Curb Overdiagnosis of Cancer, Unneeded Treatment

Led by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, an international panel of pathologists and clinicians has reclassified a type of thyroid cancer to reflect that it is noninvasive and has a low risk of recurrence. The name change, described today in JAMA Oncology, is expected to reduce the psychological and medical consequences of a cancer diagnosis, potentially affecting thousands of people worldwide.

The incidence of thyroid cancer has been rising partly due to early detection of tumors that are indolent or non-progressing, despite the presence of certain cellular abnormalities that are traditionally considered cancerous, explained senior investigator Yuri Nikiforov, MD, PhD, professor of pathology and director of Pitt’s Division of Molecular and Genomic Pathology.

“This phenomenon is known as overdiagnosis,” Dr. Nikiforov said. “To my knowledge, this is the first time in the modern era a type of cancer is being reclassified as a non-cancer. I hope that it will set an example for other expert groups to address nomenclature of various cancer types that have indolent behavior to prevent inappropriate and costly treatment.”

In particular, a tumor type known as encapsulated follicular variant of papillary thyroid carcinoma (EFVPTC) has increased in incidence by an estimated two- to three-fold over the past 20 to 30 years and makes up 10 to 20 percent of all thyroid cancers  diagnosed in Europe and North America, the panel noted. Although studies have shown EFVPTC is not dangerous, it is typically treated as aggressively as other types of thyroid cancer. At the recommendation of the National Cancer Institute, the panel sought to revise the terminology and to see if the word “cancer” could be dropped from its name.

Two dozen experienced pathologists from seven countries and four continents independently reviewed 268 tumor samples diagnosed as EFVPTC from 13 institutions. The experts established diagnostic criteria, including cellular features, tumor invasion and other factors. In a group of more than 100 noninvasive EFVPTCs, there were no recurrences or other manifestations of the disease at a median follow-up of 13 years, the panel found.

These experts decided to rename EFVPTC as “noninvasive follicular thyroid neoplasm with papillary-like nuclear features” or NIFTP. The new name cites key features to guide pathologists in diagnosis, but omits the word “cancer,” indicating that it need not be treated with radioiodine or other aggressive approaches.

“We determined that if NIFTP is carefully diagnosed, the tumor’s recurrence rate is extremely low, likely less than 1 percent within the first 15 years,” Dr. Nikiforov said. “The cost of treating thyroid cancer in 2013 was estimated to exceed $1.6 billion in the U.S. Not only does the reclassification eliminate the psychological impact of the diagnosis of ‘cancer,’ it reduces the likelihood of complications of total thyroid removal, and the overall cost of health care.”

The team included researchers from the University of Bologna, Italy; University of Pennsylvania; University of Pisa, Italy; Harvard Medical School; and others.

The project was funded in part by University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, UPMC and an education grant from CBLPath, Inc.

Researcher Named UPCI’s 2nd NCI Outstanding Investigator, Awarded $6.4M for Discovering Cancer Viruses

Patrick Moore, MD, MPH, has received the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Outstanding Investigator Award, a top honor given to accomplished cancer researchers, and was awarded $6.4 million to further his work into the link between viruses and cancer. This NCI grant recognizes exceptional past achievements to provide seven years of secured support, giving the investigator freedom from the pressure of ongoing grant competitions.

Dr. Moore’s award makes him the second researcher at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) to receive this highly coveted recognition, given to just 60 people in the country since the grant program was created in 2014. UPCI’s Thomas Kensler, PhD, who studies chemoprevention, or how food can be used to lower the risk of developing cancer caused by unavoidable environmental toxins, was awarded the honor last year.

Dr. Moore is a distinguished professor and leader of the UPCI Cancer Virology Program, holding The Pittsburgh Foundation Chair in Innovative Cancer Research at Pitt. Together with his research partner and wife, Yuan Chang, MD, Dr. Moore identified two different viruses that cause Kaposi sarcoma and Merkel cell carcinoma.

“To have the NCI recognize not just one but two of our faculty really reflects the strength of our research here at UPCI,” said Nancy E. Davidson, MD, director of UPCI, partner with UPMC CancerCenter. “We have a strong bench of talent here, and the work Dr. Moore is doing is making a real difference in our quest to end cancer.”
The award will fund Dr. Moore’s research in three key areas:

1. Understanding the mechanism by which the virus that causes Merkel cell carcinoma turns normal cells into cancer.
2. Investigating unusual ways that the virus causing Kaposi sarcoma makes oncoproteins.
3. Identifying new ways to find viruses that cause cancer in humans.
Recently, the Moore-Chang lab found a new mechanism that cancer viruses use to regulate how cells translate RNA into proteins and developed an assay to discover a class of viruses called polyomaviruses.

“I am hopeful this research will help provide new insights into methods to reliably determine the role of viruses in human cancers and to uncover new common cancer pathways that are at work in both infectious and noninfectious tumors,” Dr. Moore said. “This is an exciting time in cancer research based on past discoveries, and I’m honored that the NCI has chosen to recognize my work with this award.”

The NCI Outstanding Investigator Award provides funding to investigators with outstanding records of productivity in cancer research to continue or embark upon new projects of unusual potential in cancer research over an extended period of seven years. The award was developed to provide investigators with substantial time to break new ground or extend previous discoveries to advance biomedical, behavioral or clinical cancer research.

“The NCI Outstanding Investigator Award addresses a problem that many cancer researchers experience: finding a balance between focusing on their science while ensuring that they will have funds to continue their research in the future,” said Dinah Singer, Ph.D., director of NCI’s Division of Cancer Biology. “With seven years of uninterrupted funding, NCI is providing investigators the opportunity to fully develop exceptional and ambitious cancer research programs.”

UPMC CancerCenter Re-Accredited By American College of Radiation Oncology

UPMC CancerCenter has received re-accreditation by the American College of Radiation Oncology (ACRO), maintaining its position as the largest comprehensive cancer network in the country to be accredited in radiation oncology. Two of UPMC CancerCenter’s newer network sites, UPMC Altoona and Butler Radiation Oncology centers, each received accreditation for the first time.

“This three-year accreditation recognizes the high-quality radiation oncology care that our facilities provide to the patients in our communities each day,” said Dwight E. Heron, MD, director of radiation oncology services at UPMC CancerCenter, partner with the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. “This accreditation exemplifies our ongoing commitment and the focused effort of our staff to exceed national quality standards set forth by our professional peers. I am extremely proud of our outcomes.”

ACRO is the premier national organization dedicated to radiation oncology, and its validation confirms that UPMC CancerCenter delivers the highest-quality care to its patients. The lengthy and in-depth accreditation process included a thorough review of patient charts, technology, staff certifications and documentation of processes for each radiation oncology site, among other factors, followed by ACRO’s visits to each site to survey day-to-day operations.

At its treatment locations in western Pennsylvania, UPMC CancerCenter uses a variety of cutting-edge techniques to provide care for the approximately 7,000 cancer patients undergoing radiation at UPMC every year. These include external beam radiotherapy, such as intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and 3-D conformal radiation therapy; stereotactic radiosurgery using the GammaKnife, CyberKnife and TrueBeam technologies, among others; and brachytherapy.

ACRO developed its voluntary accreditation program to help promote the highest standards for radiation oncology.

Chief of Hematology/Oncology at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC Selected for Pediatric Cancer MoonShot Consortium

PrintLinda McAllister-Lucas, M.D., Ph.D., chief of the Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, has been selected as a member of the prestigious Pediatric Cancer MoonShot Consortium.

The announcement was made at the Cancer MoonShot 2020 press conference held this week in Phoenix.

Dr. McAllister-Lucas is an internationally recognized expert in lymphoma whose research has provided new insights into the molecular basis of these types of cancers.

The Cancer MoonShot 2020 Program is a cancer collaborative initiative seeking to accelerate the potential of combination immunotherapy as the next-generation standard of care for cancer patients. This group aims to explore a new paradigm in cancer care by initiating randomized Phase II trials involving 20,000 patients with 20 tumor types within the next 36 months. These findings will inform Phase III trials and the aspirational “moonshot” to develop effective, vaccine-based immunotherapies to combat cancer by 2020.

The newly formed consortium will focus on bringing the promise of immunotherapy to children diagnosed with the disease. The group will seek to apply the most comprehensive diagnostic testing available—whole genomic and proteomic analysis—and leverage proven and promising combination immunotherapies and clinical trials under the QUantitative, Integrative Lifelong Trial (QUILT) Program within the Cancer MoonShot 2020 mission.

“Less than 1 percent of cancers in the United States occur in pediatric patients. And yet, the loss of years and quality of life to pediatric cancer is huge,” said Dr. McAllister-Lucas, also an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “The Cancer MoonShot 2020 will pour resources into research investigating the cause, the diagnosis and the treatment of pediatric cancers. This MoonShot will start a new era of hope for our patients and their families, and will lead the way toward more effective, less toxic treatments, and higher quality, longer lives for children with cancer.”

Dr. McAllister-Lucas is one of 10 members from various academic centers across the United States to be included in the consortium. Other centers include: Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago; Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Aflac Cancer & Blood Disorders Center; Children’s Hospital of Orange County; Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; Duke Department of Pediatrics – Duke University School of Medicine; Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center; Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah and Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital; Phoenix Children’s Hospital; and Sanford Health.

The Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at Children’s provides diagnosis, treatment and follow-up for children, adolescents and young adults with cancer and blood disorders. The division is the largest, most comprehensive pediatric cancer and blood disease center in western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio and northern West Virginia and has been a member of the Children’s Oncology Group, a multi-institutional pediatric cancer research organization sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, since 1961.

For more information on Dr. McAllister-Lucas, visit www.chp.edu.

Study: Radiation Therapy Often Underused for Common Type of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Despite Recommendations

Patients with an early-stage, indolent form of lymphoma are increasingly being given no treatment, chemotherapy or targeted drug therapies despite strong clinical evidence that shows radiation therapy can have better outcomes, according to a study by University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine researchers that is being presented at the 57th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Radiation Oncology(ASTRO). 

Guidelines from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network and the European Society for Medical Oncology both list radiation therapy as the preferred treatment for low-grade follicular lymphoma, which is a common type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that grows slowly. It is most likely to occur in people age 60 and older.  

Radiation therapy is the use of high-energy x-rays to treat cancer, and was the first curative therapy for lymphoma. Radiation therapy has a long history as the preferred treatment in early-stage follicular lymphoma; however, despite strong supporting evidence, it has been replaced by alternative management strategies including observation without initial treatment and novel systemic therapies.

“Our study highlights the increasing omission of radiation therapy in non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and its associated negative effect on overall survival at a national level. This increasing bias towards the omission of radiation therapy is despite proven efficacy and increasing adoption of lower radiation therapy doses and more modern radiation therapy techniques which decrease risk of side effects,” said Austin Vargo, M.D., a radiation oncologist at UPMC CancerCenter, partner with the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, and lead author of the study.  “More patients should be offered this effective yet underused treatment.”

Researchers analyzed patterns of care and survival outcomes for 35,961 patients diagnosed with early-stage follicular lymphoma as listed in the National Cancer Data Base. The study found that the use of radiation therapy in these patients decreased from 37 percent in 1999 to 24 percent in 2012 while there were increases in the use of single-agent chemotherapy and observation without any initial treatment. Patients who received radiation therapy had five-year and 10-year survival rates of 86 percent and 68 percent, respectively; those who did not have radiation therapy had rates of 74 percent and 54 percent.

“Survival with radiation therapy in these cases are higher and we think that an evidence-based approach should be used by more oncologists when discussing treatments for their patients,” said Dwight E. Heron, M.D., FACRO, FACR, director of radiation services, UPMC CancerCenter, and professor of Pitt’s Department of Radiation Oncology, Otolaryngology and Head & Neck Surgery.

Collaborators on the study were Beant S. Gill, M.D., of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute; Goundappa K. Balasubramani, Ph.D., of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health; and Sushil Beriwal, M.D., Department of Radiation Oncology,Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC.

Pitt/UPCI Next-Gen Sequencing Test Identifies Cancerous Thyroid Nodules with High Degree of Accuracy

A next-generation sequencing test is successfully predicting which thyroid nodules are cancerous and require surgical removal, reducing the need for multiple invasive diagnostic procedures, according to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) and Pitt School of Medicine. Their findings were recently published online in the journal Thyroid.
In up to 80 percent of cases, examination of cells collected with a fine needle from a suspicious lump in the thyroid, a gland in the front of the neck, typically can tell a pathologist whether it is benign or malignant, said lead investigator Yuri Nikiforov, M.D., Ph.D., professor of pathology and director of Pitt’s Division of Molecular and Genomic Pathology.
“However, in 20 percent of cases, the result is indeterminate, meaning we can’t say for certain whether the nodule is cancerous,” he said. “That means the patient might have a repeat needle biopsy, or will go to the operating room to have the affected thyroid lobe removed for further assessment. If it turns out to be cancer, the patient has to have yet another surgery to have the rest of the thyroid taken out.”
Three-quarters of such diagnostic surgeries are performed on what turn out to be benign nodules. Such patients could have avoided surgery if physicians were confident without surgical excision that the nodules are very likely to be harmless.
In the new study, the researchers used the latest version of the test they developed, called ThyroSeq v2.1, to look for more than 300 cancer-associated mutations in 56 genes using cells obtained from fine-needle aspiration biopsies in more than 440 patients. Of that group, 96 patients had established diagnoses through surgery, allowing the team to assess ThyroSeq’s predictive power. The team found the test was able to correctly classify 20 out of 22 cancers with high precision and accuracy. Most importantly, when the test was negative, the residual risk of cancer in those nodules was so low that surgical excision was not needed.
“We finally have a test that offers high accuracy in predicting whether a nodule is cancerous or if it is benign,” Dr. Nikiforov said.
“This molecular testing panel holds great promise for streamlining and eliminating unnecessary surgery, not just here, but nationwide,” said co-author Sally E. Carty, M.D., professor and chief of endocrine surgery, Pitt School of Medicine, and co-director of the UPMC/UPCI Multidisciplinary Thyroid Center, which has been offering the test since 2014. It also is available to and used by thyroid clinics around the country.
“Thyroid cancer now is the fifth most common cancer diagnosed in women, and it is one of the few cancers that continues to increase in incidence,” she noted. “It’s important to get to the diagnosis quickly and correctly.”
The team included other researchers from Pitt and UPCI. The project was supported by UPCI, UPMC and the Richard A. & Leslie A. Snow Fund for Thyroid Cancer Research.

UPCI Researcher Named Outstanding Investigator by NCI, Awarded $6.3M for Studying How Food Can Lower Cancer Risks

 Thomas Kensler, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology and chemical biology and co-leader for the Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Program at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI), was awarded a $6.3 million Outstanding Investigator Award from the National Cancer Institute (NCI). This new award acknowledges experienced researchers and provides them with long-term support for their exceptional work.
Dr. Kensler’s research focuses on chemoprevention, or how food can be used to lower the risk of developing cancer caused by unavoidable environmental toxins.
“The NCI Outstanding Investigator Award addresses a problem that many cancer researchers experience:  finding a balance between focusing on their science while ensuring that they will have funds to continue their research in the future,” said Dinah Singer, Ph.D., director of NCI’s Division of Cancer Biology. “With seven years of uninterrupted funding, NCI is providing investigators the opportunity to fully develop exceptional and ambitious cancer research programs.”
The seven-year grant is one of just 60 awarded in its inaugural year.
Research has shown that controlling diet, increasing exercise and quitting smoking can decrease the risk of developing cancer; however, environmental toxins such as fossil fuel combustion products are more difficult to mitigate. Past studies by Dr. Kensler’s team in China, where environmental controls are less rigorous, have examined the bioactive molecules in broccoli and how they may help people there detoxify air pollutants.
“Pollution is a global problem and its effects are seen most often among the elderly, disabled, children and minorities. We need effective and affordable interventions, and using food-based strategies could be the ideal way to address this,” Dr. Kensler said.
He and his team will focus on a biological pathway known to play a role in detoxification, identify and validate biomarkers of its activity, and examine the molecular consequences of its chronic activation.
“It’s truly an honor for Dr. Kensler to be among the first to receive this prestigious award. He has pioneered our understanding of how chemically reactive constituents in foodstuffs can profoundly and positively impact tissue defense and repair mechanisms. We’re proud of the work he is doing to try and lessen the burden of cancer, not only in western Pennsylvania but around the globe,” said Bruce Freeman, Ph.D., UPMC-Irwin Fridovich Professor and Chair of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology.
Research reported in this publication was supported by the NCI under award number 1R35CA197222-01. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

UPCI Researcher Named Outstanding Investigator by NCI, Awarded $6.3M for Studying How Food Can Lower Cancer Risks

PITTSBURGH, Aug. 6, 2015 Thomas Kensler, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology and chemical biology and co-leader for the Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Program at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI), was awarded a $6.3 million Outstanding Investigator Award from the National Cancer Institute (NCI). This new award acknowledges experienced researchers and provides them with long-term support for their exceptional work.

Dr. Kensler’s research focuses on chemoprevention, or how food can be used to lower the risk of developing cancer caused by unavoidable environmental toxins.

“The NCI Outstanding Investigator Award addresses a problem that many cancer researchers experience:  finding a balance between focusing on their science while ensuring that they will have funds to continue their research in the future,” said Dinah Singer, Ph.D., director of NCI’s Division of Cancer Biology. “With seven years of uninterrupted funding, NCI is providing investigators the opportunity to fully develop exceptional and ambitious cancer research programs.”

The seven-year grant is one of just 60 awarded in its inaugural year.

Research has shown that controlling diet, increasing exercise and quitting smoking can decrease the risk of developing cancer; however, environmental toxins such as fossil fuel combustion products are more difficult to mitigate. Past studies by Dr. Kensler’s team in China, where environmental controls are less rigorous, have examined the bioactive molecules in broccoli and how they may help people there detoxify air pollutants.

“Pollution is a global problem and its effects are seen most often among the elderly, disabled, children and minorities. We need effective and affordable interventions, and using food-based strategies could be the ideal way to address this,” Dr. Kensler said.

He and his team will focus on a biological pathway known to play a role in detoxification, identify and validate biomarkers of its activity, and examine the molecular consequences of its chronic activation.

“It’s truly an honor for Dr. Kensler to be among the first to receive this prestigious award. He has pioneered our understanding of how chemically reactive constituents in foodstuffs can profoundly and positively impact tissue defense and repair mechanisms. We’re proud of the work he is doing to try and lessen the burden of cancer, not only in western Pennsylvania but around the globe,” said Bruce Freeman, Ph.D., UPMC-Irwin Fridovich Professor and Chair of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology.

Research reported in this publication was supported by the NCI under award number 1R35CA197222-01. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

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