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Jefferson Radiation Oncologist Receives Young Investigator Award from Prostate Cancer Foundation

August 29, 2013
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Jefferson Radiation Oncologist, Nicole Simone, M.D., was recently awarded one of 21 Young Investigator Awards from the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF).

The award, in the amount of $225,000, will be used to further her research in caloric restriction to decrease tumor growth and metastases in prostate cancer patients.

Young investigator awards support the most innovative minds in the field of prostate cancer research and are designed to promote long-term careers in prostate cancer research by providing three-year grants for transformational research focused on prostate cancer advances and new treatments to improve patient outcomes.

"This is an incredibly exciting area in cancer research today," says Adam Dicker, M.D., Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Thomas Jefferson University and Hospital. "Dr. Simone's research connects nutrition, obesity and cancer; the opportunity to help patients through efforts that are under their control represents a fresh approach in the fight against cancer."

"We are particularly enthusiastic about this research because the PCF award will allow us to obtain the preclinical information needed so that we can use caloric restriction in clinical trials for our prostate cancer patients," says Dr. Simone.

Dr. Simone's research will use caloric restriction to decrease tumor growth and metastases in prostate cancer patients. Caloric restriction has proven successful in decreasing multiple molecules in the insulin like growth-factor (IGF) pathway in animal models, with a further decrease in this pathway noted when caloric restriction is combined with radiation or chemotherapy.

The IGF-1R pathway is important for the regulation of normal human physiology and when unregulated can play a role in the promotion of cell proliferation, inhibiting cell death in cancer patients and aiding in cancer progression.

Dr. Simone's recently-published research shows that calorie restriction augments radiation efficacy, noting additive regression of tumors in a highly metastatic model of triple negative breast cancer when radiation is combined with caloric restriction, thus showing the potential for calorie restriction to change the biology of tumors and enhance the opportunity for clinical benefit.

She is also currently recruiting patients for a clinical trial to examine the effect of calorie restriction on early stage breast cancer patients.

Dr. Simone and her team will apply these same principles to prostate cancer patients, using diet modification to help prostate patients undergoing radiation and chemotherapy to attempt to show that caloric restriction may enhance the efficacy of chemotherapy or radiation for the treatment of prostate cancer.

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Jefferson University Hospitals
Phone: 215-955-6300