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Ramzi M. Mohammad, Ph.D.

January 17, 2008 by  


Ramzi Mohammad, Ph.D.

Medicine may move several steps closer to successful treatment of deadly pancreatic cancer with a National Institutes of Health grant awarded to a Wayne State University School of Medicine researcher.

Professor Ramzi M. Mohammad, Ph.D., Hematology & Oncology and Internal Medicine, of the Wayne State University School of Medicine and the Karmanos Cancer Institute, has been awarded a $1.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop a new treatment for pancreatic cancer.

The prestigious RO1 grant, which funds research for five years, will be used, said Dr. Mohammed, to introduce “a new and novel concept to treat this deadly disease.”

Often considered the most deadly form of cancer, pancreatic cancer is a malignant tumor within the pancreatic gland. Each year, more than 33,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Only four percent of patients diagnosed with the affliction are expected to survive. Depending on the extent of the tumor at the time of diagnosis, the prognosis is generally regarded as poor. Few victims are still alive five years after diagnosis, and complete remission remains extremely rare.

Pancreatic cancer can be called a silent disease because many times the symptoms go unnoticed until the cancer is in the advanced stage. If there are early indications and symptoms, they are often mistakenly attributed to another condition.

In earlier research, Dr. Mohammad developed a method that allows the growth of human pancreatic tumor cells within the body of a mouse. He has demonstrated that human tumor cells can be injected into a mouse’s pancreas, and the tumor can than be successfully treated. Essentially, Dr. Mohammad is treating human tumors in a non-human host, and finding success in treatment of those human pancreatic tumors. The unique model preserves the human cell structure within the body of the mouse.

With the newly funded NIH grant, Dr. Mohammad plans to test the efficacy of new drug combinations on the human tumors within the mice. Standard pancreatic cancer therapy relies on drugs like gemcitabine and cisplatin, highly-toxic drugs that damage patient DNA. His techniques are expected to enhance the gemcitabine killing effect and thus improve the efficacy of standard chemotherapy, Dr. Mohammad said.

Heavily involved in preclinical and clinical research, Dr. Mohammad has also developed seven cell lines for cancer research in an effort to find therapies for lymphoma and leukemia. Through his path-breaking research, Dr. Mohammad has published numerous papers in specialized journals such as Cancer Research and Clinical Cancer Research.

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