Researchers have known for decades that oxygen affects the growth of tumor cells, but how exactly cells use oxygen remains unknown.
Michael E. Pacold, MD, PhD, a physician–scientist at NYU Langone Health’s Perlmutter Cancer Center, was recently named one of seven recipients of the Pershing Square Sohn Prize for Young Investigators in Cancer Research by the Pershing Square Sohn Cancer Research Alliance. Dr. Pacold has been awarded a 3-year, $600,000 grant to study the role of oxygen and other biologically relevant gases in cancers. Dr. Pacold and his colleagues will use methods they have developed to trace these gases into their targets in cells to discover oxygen-driven processes that enable tumor growth, with the goal of developing new treatments for cancers.
Dr. Pacold’s research focuses on brain cancers and pancreatic cancer, which have poor outcomes and are low in oxygen.
“For us, the fact that these cancers have adapted and evolved to survive in an environment with low oxygen is an opportunity,” says Dr. Pacold, also an assistant professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology at NYU Grossman School of Medicine. “It means that they prioritize the use of oxygen, and that means that there are more opportunities for us to find ways that these cancers are critically dependent upon oxygen, and that we can take advantage of that to devise new treatments.”
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