University of Louisville Receives $5.5 Million Grant From Helmsley Charitable Trust to Support Innovative Cancer Research


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James R. Ramsey, PhD

Donald Miller, MD, PhD

Noting the significant progress in drug and vaccine development over the past 3 years, the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, has provided a 3-year, $5.5 million grant to the James Graham Brown Cancer Center at the University of Louisville, Kentucky, to develop new treatments and vaccines for various forms of cancer.

“Seven years ago, we partnered with Owensboro Health to explore the novel idea of plant-based pharmaceuticals and vaccines in the treatment and prevention of cancer,” said James R. Ramsey, PhD, President of the University of Louisville. “Our team showed enough promise that the Helmsley Charitable Trust provided more than $3 million in research support in 2010. [The new] grant, with Donald Miller, MD, PhD, Director of the James Graham Brown Cancer Center, as the principal investigator, demonstrates the confidence the leaders of the trust have in the work that is being accomplished. We are extremely grateful to the trust for its support and we look forward to further opportunities to partner.”

The new funding will help University of Louisville researchers move into clinical trials of vaccines for cervical and colon cancer. Additionally, researchers will further develop plant-based drug delivery systems to allow for higher concentrations of anticancer drugs to be transported directly to human tumors, as well as to increase a tumor’s sensitivity to anticancer treatment. The plants involved in the research range from tobacco to soybeans to colored berries.

“Our goal is to cure cancer in people, not in mice,” Dr. Miller said. “The Owensboro Cancer Research Program is a tremendous tool for reaching that goal, not just locally or regionally, but worldwide. Through plant-based pharmaceuticals, we will be able to provide low-cost vaccines and anticancer medications that make them accessible to even the poorest of nations. To have an organization like the Helmsley Charitable Trust partner with us will enable us to move toward our goal at a much quicker pace.” ■


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