Program to Preserve Fertility of Cancer Patients

    Program to Preserve Fertility of Cancer Patients

    UCSD, along with four leading academic medical centers, will
    participate in a $21-million program funded by the National Institutes of
    Health to help protect fertility in women being treated for cancer.

    The national research, clinical and education program,
    called the Oncofertility Consortium, will launch nine projects over a five-year

    “This grant will allow us to explore new methods to preserve
    a woman’s ability to conceive, before she undergoes chemotherapy and
    radiation,” Jeffrey Chang, professor and chief of the division of reproductive
    endocrinology and department of reproductive medicine, said in a press release.

    Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy can
    damage the ovaries and result in infertility.

    The UCSD
    Medical Center

    will lead a National Physicians Cooperative to unify participating universities
    and more than 20 medical centers in collecting and preserving ovarian tissue
    and eggs.

    Cancer patients participating in the 2008 clinical trial
    will have an ovary surgically removed before they begin cancer treatment.
    Twenty percent of the ovarian tissue will be used for research and 80 percent
    will be preserved for the female patient to use in the future.

    Sugar Molecules Targeted to Help Detect Cancer

    Funded by a $2.3-million grant from the National Cancer
    Institute, a new research project at the UCSD School of Medicine will focus on
    the early diagnosis and prognosis of lung, pancreatic and ovarian cancers using
    molecular glycans as biomarkers.

    Ajit Varki, distinguished professor of cellular and
    molecular medicine, and Richard Schwab, assistant professor at UCSD’s Rebecca
    and John Moores Cancer
    , will lead the
    project. The NCI grant is part of a nationwide initiative to develop new
    methods of detecting and treating cancer through glycobiology — the study of
    the structure, biosynthesis and biology of complex sugar chains.

    “Despite many years of work by many investigators, there are
    no blood or urine markers that can reliably detect such cancers early enough in
    their course to make a difference in survival,” Varki said in a press
    release. “Our studies have unveiled a
    promising new approach to this problem.”

    Numerous studies comparing normal and tumor cells have shown
    that their glycan structures change with cancer development.

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