Suzana Savkovic, PhD, associate professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, investigates the relationship between obesity and enhanced risk for colon cancer.
Obesity is associated with an increased risk for a broad spectrum of tumors, including colon cancer. And once cancer develops, statistics show that overweight or obese individuals are at higher risk of cancer recurrence and have a decreased chance of survival. The underlying mechanisms for this are unclear.
One of the emerging possibilities with regard to colon cancer is that excess lipids -- a class of organic compounds, including fats, that are insoluble in water -- accumulate in both the fat-storing and non-fat-storing tissues of obese individuals. These intracellular lipids are stored in droplets (LDs) and are seen at higher volumes in colonic tumors relative to normal tissues. It is theorized that these droplets not only drive inflammation in the colonic epithelium, but they could also be the energy source that drives colon tumor formation and growth.
"In order for cancer cells to grow and persist, they need fuel," said Suzana Savkovic, PhD, associate professor of pathology and laboratory medicine. "Overweight or obese individuals store excess energy in the form of fat, and cancer cells derive their energy from muscles and fat. So we know obesity and cancer progression are connected, but we don't yet fully understand how." Savkovic and her team were recently awarded a five-year, $1.6 million National Cancer Institute grant to investigate the connection.
But lipid accumulation is not the only culprit, according to Dr. Savkovic. LD accumulation PLUS the suppression of a gene involved in halting tumor growth -- the FOXO3 tumor suppressor gene -- seem to represent a co-dependent signaling network that drives colon cancer progression.
"We discovered that when FOXO3 loses function, there is an increase in LD accumulation. The cells actually start to accumulate more food," said Savkovic. Why is this important? Because LDs are actually changing these cells. Even if they were normal before, now they can become cancerous cells because they are storing LDs. And LDs provide the physical building blocks that cancer cells need to create new cells as they rapidly divide, as well as the fuel to support tumor growth.
There is also a third player in this process, according to Savkovic -- enzymatic molecules called DGATs. Savkovic's preliminary data show that DGATs levels are elevated in human and mouse colonic tumors relative to normal tissues, with even higher levels in obese individuals and mice. Elevated DGATs are linked to poor patient survival.
"In the laboratory, inhibition of DGATs in human colonic-transformed cells blocked the pathway responsible for the loss of FOXO3, lowered LDs and prevented tumor cell growth," said Savkovic. "The whole process is a big loop. We hypothesize that elevated levels of DGATs help to drive the LD/FOXO3 signaling network, and if we block DGATs, we can not only preserve FOXO3 tumor suppressor function, but also lower LD accumulation and in turn suppress tumor formation and growth. If we target DGATs, the rest of the loop falls apart." This knowledge could provide opportunities to establish new therapeutic approaches for colon cancer.
Savkovic is especially excited that she and her team used the tissues of local colon cancer patients in generating the preliminary data that led to this grant. The tissues were acquired by and stored in the Louisiana Cancer Research Center's (LCRC) Biospecimen Laboratory.
"These patients are from across the Greater New Orleans area, not just Tulane," said Savkovic. "I feel so privileged that people from this community are contributing to this important research. We don't have to rely on others; we have a presence on the national scene."
The LCRC - a cancer research partnership between Tulane, LSU, Xavier and Ochsner - was created and funded by the State of Louisiana to help foster collaborative cancer research. Savkovic feels the resources it provides help to "drive her work." In addition to utilizing the Biospecimen Core Laboratory, she has used the services of the Cancer Crusader's Next Generation Sequence Analysis Core to help analyze her data, and her recent lecture to all LCRC faculty helped to kick start potential research collaborations with colleagues at LSUHSC and Ochsner.
"I'm so grateful to have an opportunity to give back to the community here based on what I do and what I know," said Savkovic.
The Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology recently welcomed Professor Jun-yuan Ji, PhD, (top photo) to the faculty.
Dr. Ji is a developmental geneticist with research interests in cancer biology. He and his laboratory team have made several important contributions to understanding the regulation of lipid metabolism and cell cycle progression using the fruit fly - Drosophila melanogaster - and cultured cancer cells as experimental systems.
Dr. Ji will be teaming up with Dr. Wu-Min Deng (bottom photo), the Gerald and Flora Jo Mansfield Piltz Endowed Professor of Cancer Research, who also utilizes the fruit fly model in his cancer investigations. Together, they plan to establish a Center for Disease Models here at Tulane, with the goal of fostering interdisciplinary collaborations among researchers across the Greater New Orleans area.
Drosophila melanogaster has been used in laboratories around the world for over a century to study the fundamentals of genetics and development. Sharing approximately 75% of its genome with humans and having an overlap of approximately 90% in disease-causing genes, Drosophila has been influential not only in the discovery of many genes and fundamental regulatory mechanisms, but also in the study of cancer, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, neurodegenerative diseases and neurological disorders.
Dr. Ji’s lab investigates the function of an enzyme - CDK8 - involved in regulating gene expression within cells. This enzyme is mutated or amplified in a variety of human cancers. His team also studies the role of Wnt signaling - a pathway through which proteins pass signals into cells through cell surface receptors - in regulating lipid metabolism. Abnormal Wnt signaling and lipid metabolism can cause different types of human cancers, as well as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.
Dr. Deng's lab has identified several fruit fly larval tissues containing "tumor hotspots," where conditions are favorable for primary tumor growth. Tumors can be "seeded" in these larval tissues using simplistic genetic manipulations and then transplanted into the abdomens of adult fruit fly hosts, where researchers can then track tumor progression. Current research in the Deng lab studies the various mechanisms used by these tumors to grow and metastasize into the host body.
“Dr. Ji's arrival helps us to further broaden our Drosophila research program, enhancing the expertise in diverse animal models within the Tulane Cancer Center," said Prescott Deininger, PhD., Cancer Center Director. "We are very excited at the promise of their collaborations - with each other and with other researchers at Tulane and beyond."
Many thanks to the faculty and staff of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology for their contributions to this story (Bionotes, Issue 21, Spring 2021).
The logistics and financial burden of traveling to multiple appointments often causes additional stress for cancer patients trying to follow a treatment plan. In an effort to help alleviate this worry, the American Cancer Society (ACS) recently awarded Tulane Cancer Center a $50,000 transportation grant. This new grant continues the vital assistance made possible at Tulane last spring through a $10,000 ACS transportation award.
As an academic cancer center, Tulane offers the advantages of multidisciplinary care as well as access to the very latest in investigational and standard-of-care treatment and prevention options -- avenues cancer patients might not be able to pursue in their local communities. Because of this, the Tulane Cancer Center is a coveted destination for patients seeking to visit clinical care teams, receive radiation or chemotherapy treatments, participate in psychosocial counseling, or be enrolled in a cancer clinical trial, among other services.
"Of course, the desire to seek the best possible treatment no matter where it's offered doesn't always match the ability of a patient to travel to that location, and that shouldn't be a factor in any patient's journey to survivorship," said Prescott Deininger, Tulane Cancer Center director. "Any assistance we can provide to alleviate transportation as an obstacle to superior cancer care is incumbent upon us, and we are immensely grateful to the American Cancer Society for allowing us to remove these obstacles for our patients."
This generous grant will supplement Tulane Cancer Center's Patient Relief Fund, a philanthropic account which prior to our ACS Transportation Grant awards was more or less the sole resource from which we could assist our patients with transportation needs. While the PRF is an extremely valuable resource, it has historically been used to provide assistance with meals and short-term lodging in addition to transportation and is dependent upon donations in order to be a viable resource for patient assistance. Because of these factors, the number of patients who could receive transportation assistance through the PRF was difficult to plan for or predict through the years.
"That's why the ACS Transportation Grant is so vital. It's a quantifiable resource that we can count on over a specific time period to provide transportation assistance to patients at a time when the need is high. This allows us to free up other funds to provide for other pressing needs, which have also increased greatly over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic," said Deininger.
Krewe de Pink's (KDP) Annual Pink Bra Run, benefiting Tulane Cancer Center's Breast Cancer Research Program, is going VIRTUAL this year!
So grab your favorite pink bra, get outside, and enjoy the fun, while helping to support breast cancer research right here at home!
"We want everyone to join together with their family and friends -- complying with social distancing requirements, of course -- and have quirky New Orleans-style fun while also raising funds for this amazing cause," said Stephanie Cantrell, Krewe de Pink's run coordinator. "And the really cool thing this year is that you don't have to be here in New Orleans to participate. Because it's virtual, you can join from anywhere in the world."
The Pink Bra Run is one of three annual signature events planned by KDP. The other two include Death by Chocolate...Not Breast Cancer (see below Save-The-Date) and the Krewe de Pink Prom, held annually in the fall.
Dedicated to producing fundraising events with a New Orleans flair, KDP was started in 2015 by a team of concerned and passionate individuals who were all affected by breast cancer and who wanted to fight back. Over the last five years, KDP has raised over $125,000 to help support Dr. Bridgette Collins-Burow's research into triple negative breast cancer at Tulane Cancer Center.
Krewe de Pink's designated race day is always the Saturday before Mother's Day. This year, that date is May 8. However, since the event is virtual, participants can choose their own race date this year, so long as their run/walk is completed and their times submitted by May 8 at 9 p.m.
REGISTRATION / BIBS
Participants may register through Eventbrite by clicking here!
Once registered, your bib number will be assigned and your printable bib emailed to you. We encourage all participants to print and wear their bibs during their personal run/walk to show observers that they are participating in a registered race.
Adult Virtual Race Registration - $35 per person.
Youth Virtual Race Registration (13 years and younger) - $25 per person
LOGGING YOUR TIME
Use your favorite fitness app (Fitbit, Motion X, Strava, etc.) to log your run or walk for distance, time and route. Save the information on a screenshot. Then visit the race website and fill out the run form to show that your event is completed.
You can follow Krewe de Pink's traditional route or select your own 5K (3.1 mile) route!
The KDP route starts on the Mississippi River levee in Historic Gretna (across from River Shack, 714 1st St.) and continues toward Algiers Point (ending near Old Point Bar, 545 Patterson Rd.). The traditional route offers some of the most beautiful views of the New Orleans skyline and the Crescent City Connection in the area.
Each participant will receive a 2021 Pink Bra Run medal in commemoration of the event once their race form is completed. You may opt out of receiving a medal if you wish. Please indicate your preference at registration.
Since this year's event is virtual, with a variety of fitness apps in use, we are considering it a FUN event, not a qualifying event for other races.
Participate in running gear or in costume! Remember, this is a Pink Bra Run, so go ahead and bedazzle that bra and go for a memorable stroll!
Krewe de Pink wants your pictures!! Tag them on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or your platform of choice. (#PBR2021, #PinkBraRun)
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Please email: email@example.com
Or visit: https://www.krewedepink.org/pink-bra-run
Saturday, July 10, 2021
5:30 - 8:30 PM
3827 Canal St.
Krewe de Pink, in its continued effort to support Tulane Cancer Center’s Breast Cancer Research Fund, will once again partner with Schoen Mansion and Delgado Community College's Culinary and Pastry Arts Program in hosting this uniquely delicious event. Delgado will sponsor a live cooking competition -- featuring Callebaut chocolate -- among the school's hospitality students. Each student will be judged on their chocolate-inspired creations -- both sweet and savory -- and their table designs. First-, second- and third-place prizes will be awarded. In addition to sampling all of the tasty creations and voting for their favorites, guests will receive a swag bag compliments of Delgado Community College. This year's event is being held in honor of Norma Jane Sabiston, a 2020 Sweet Survivor Honoree.
Event planners are closely monitoring all COVID-19 restrictions and will follow all guidelines in place at the time of the event. Current plans potentially include a socially distanced in-person event combined with drive-through pick-up of sample food items for additional guests. Stay tuned for additional details.
For more information or to PURCHASE TICKETS, visit https://www.krewedepink.org/death-by-chocolate.
To increase awareness of the causes, symptoms, risk factors and treatment options for various urological conditions, the Department of Urology recently launched a Men's Health Webinar Series.
These monthly virtual seminars are free and open to the public and will provide information on a variety of men's health topics, including erectile dysfunction, urinary incontinence, enlarged prostate, low testosterone and male infertility, among others. Viewers will be able to participate anonymously and ask questions privately, all from the comfort of their homes.
"The topics we plan to cover are directly pertinent to cancer survivorship and improved quality of life for many men who have been diagnosed with and treated for genitourinary cancers," said Omer Raheem, MD, MSc, assistant professor of urology and director of men's health in Tulane's Department of Urology.
And one of the benefits of an interactive virtual seminar is that participants can get their questions answered without having to book an appointment in clinic. "Webinar attendees can anonymously submit their questions to the experts in real time and get answers during the presentation," said Dr. Raheem. "We wanted to make it as easy as possible to create that virtual dialogue and provide men with the information they need to stay healthy."
Currently scheduled webinars are listed below. Topics, dates and times of future events will be advertised here as details are finalized. Remember, registration is required to participate and space is limited. So please register early, if you're interested in attending.
Omer Raheem, MD, MSc
Director of Men's Health
Assistant Professor of Urology
ED is a condition that affects as many as 50% of men over the age of 40 in the US. It can limit your intimacy, affect your self- esteem, and impact your relationship with your partner. Medication helps treat ED in some men, but it does not work for all. For those men, there may be other treatment options. To learn more, please join us for this free webinar.
May 11, 2021 - 6 PM
To register, please click here.
Tulane Cancer Center First in Region to Offer MRI-Guided Perineal Prostate Biopsy
Doctors Should Address Reduced Sense of Taste and Smell in Cancer Patients, Tulane Study Says
Tulane Cancer Center Receives American Cancer Society Lodging Funds
Annual Sporting Clays Event Raises $180K for Prostate Cancer Research
Department of Urology Launches Men's Health Webinar Series
Want a Rapid Second Opinion? Tulane Cancer Center Doctors Are Standing By
Krewe de Pink Donates $25K to Breast Cancer Research Program
Annual Pink Games Surpass $200K in Funds Raised for Patient Relief
Department of Urology Launches Men's Health Webinar Series
Progress in a Year of Unprecedented Challenge
Tulane Cancer Center Welcomes New Office of Clinical Research Director
Cancer Crusaders Raise $131K for Cancer Research at Tulane/LSU
New Thoracic Oncologist Spearheads Development of Lung Cancer Program
Researchers Identify Marker That May Predict Whether Lung Cancer Likely to Spread
Tulane / ACCC Host Urothelial Carcinoma Workshop for Healthcare Professionals
VIRTUAL Krewe de Pink Prom Benefits Breast Cancer Research Program
Kidney Cancer Association Hosts First Annual Virtual Patient Symposium
Tulane / ACCC Host Urothelial Carcinoma Workshop for Healthcare Professionals
Liver Cancer Treatment Showing Positive Results, Tulane Study Says
Community Webinar on Prostate Cancer Posted to YouTube
Many Thanks to Our 2020 NOLA Bluedoo Donors
Clinical Trial to Test Effectiveness of Drug in Treating Cancer Patients with Severe COVID-19
Join Us for our Virtual Community Seminar on Prostate Cancer
Gynecologic Oncology: Diverse Team of "Women Caring for Women"
$792K ACS Grant to Help Metastatic Cancer Patients Understand/Access Palliative Care
Tulane Scientists Find a Switch to Flip and Turn off Breast Cancer Growth and Metastasis
$100K Kay Yow Cancer Fund Grant to Raise Clinical Trial Awareness In Minority Patients
Fruit Flies Help Shed Light on Tumor Formation, Migration and Growth
Tulane Seeks Recovered COVID-19 Patients to Volunteer as Plasma Donors for Clinical Trial
A Ray of Hope in the Crisis, Dr. Kendra Harris Shines Light on Needs of Healthcare Providers
ACS Grant to Help Cancer Patients Overcome Transportation Barriers Especially Critical Now
Study Targeting Tumor Genetic Mutations Yields ‘Practice Changing’ Results for Prostate Cancer Treatment
Gunning for a Cure 2020 Raises $220K for Prostate Cancer Research
Spike in U.S. Colorectal Cancer Rates From Age 49 to 50 Suggests Many Cases Likely Undiagnosed Before Screenings
Gunning for a Cure: Making a "Tremendous Difference" to Prostate Cancer Research
Radiation Oncologist Audrey Dang Returns to NOLA / Joins Tulane's Team
Death by Chocolate: A Sweet (and Savory!) Success
Pink Games Initiative Sets New Record in Effort to Assist Local Cancer Patients
Radiation Oncology to Unveil New Linear Accelerator / Patient Care Area
Krewe de Pink Presents Death by Chocolate
Tulane Health First in Region to Offer Focal Therapy for Prostate Cancer
Our Year in Review
Kidney Cancer Day: Connecting Patients to Care Teams
Tulane Researcher is Editor of Journal Issue Honoring 40th Anniversary of Key Cancer Discovery
Pickup Truck for the Cure Raffle Extended - Winner to be Pulled June 1, 2020
Tulane Study Reveals Dim Light at Night May Promote Breast Cancer Metastasis to Bone
Cancer Cells Turn to Cannibalism to Survive Chemotherapy
Tulane School of Medicine Welcomes Neuro-Oncologist Christopher Trevino, MD
Sixth Annual NOLA Bluedoo Raises $143K for Prostate Cancer Research
Cancer Crusaders Support Research/Celebrate Life at Annual Luncheon
Blue Ribbon Soiree Closing in on $1 Million Raised for Prostate Cancer Initiatives
Krewe de Pink Continues Their Support of Breast Cancer Research with $35K Gift
Tulane Lakeside Hospital Now Offering 3D Breast Biopsy
16 Tulane Cancer Center Faculty Named "Top Docs" by New Orleans Magazine
Flemington Team Awarded $2.3 Million For Virus-Related Malignancies Research
Our Summer Drive is ON!
Bryan Subaru / LLS Distribute Blankets, Art Kits & Messages of Hope to Cancer Patients
Win a Truck & Help Cure Prostate Cancer
Researcher's Publication Honored as "Top 100" by Scientific Reports
New Multidisciplinary Prostate Cancer Clinic Enhances Care / Convenience
In the Pink: 4th Annual Pink Bra Run Raises Spirits/Funds for Breast Cancer Research
Cancer Crusaders Raise $171K for Tulane/LSU Cancer Research Programs
Researcher Awarded $1.8 Million NCI Grant to Study New Targets for Rare Pediatric Cancer
Meet Us at the Levee: Pink Bra Run to Benefit Breast Cancer Research!
2019 One Man Shoot Continues the Mission - Making a Difference in Fighting Prostate Cancer
Exploring "Dark Matter of Genomes" Could Shed Light on Cancer Risk
Joe W. & Dorothy Dorsett Brown Foundation Grant Supports Training of Aspiring Female Scientists
Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month Q & A - "Screening Saves Lives"
Improving Access to Care Top Priority for New Genitourinary Cancers Expert
Study Finds Genetic Risks Associated With Prostate Cancer are Underestimated
Greenberg Family Endowment Boosts Fight Against Prostate Cancer
8th Annual One Man Shoot: Proving "One Man Can Make a Difference"
Gunning for a Cure Sets New Record, Raising $220K for Prostate Cancer Research
Tulane Medical Students Raise Money for Pediatric Cancer Research
New Gynecologic Oncologist Aims to Reduce Cervical Cancer Rates in NOLA
Tulane Study Finds Potential Role for Personality Psychology in Cancer Care
Sixth Annual Gunning for a Cure Benefits Prostate Cancer Research
Student Athletes Provide Much-Needed Financial Assistance to Cancer Patients
Improving Early Prostate Cancer Detection: Latest Technology Combines Imaging/Biopsy Tools to Improve Accuracy of Diagnosis
Advanced Cancer Patients Can Live Longer with Palliative Care, Tulane Study Says
Serve and Assist: Student Athletes Raise Funds for Patient Relief
Prostate Cancer Patients Target of New $1.6M Tulane Study
Tulane Opens Novocure Trial for Patients with Stage 4 Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
The Great American Smokeout ® - Quitting Starts Here!
8th Annual Blue Ribbon Soiree Sets Record, Raising $130K for Prostate Cancer Research
Krewe de Pink Celebrates New Orleans-Style, Donating $35K to Breast Cancer Research!
Researcher Examines Role of DNA-Damaging Elements in Aging/Age-Related Diseases
Lynch Syndrome Can Lead to Cancer — Why Physicians Don't Test For It
Fifth NOLA Bluedoo a Record-Setting Success - Raises $193K for Prostate Cancer Research
Tulane Cancer Center to Host Free Prostate Cancer Seminar
Fifth Annual NOLA Bluedoo Celebrates Prostate Cancer Survivorship New Orleans-Style
Tulane Doctor Elected to Elite Surgery College
Tulane Welcomes Kendra Harris, MD, MSc - New Interim Chair of Radiation Oncology
Nakhle Saba Receives Ladies Leukemia League Grant to Study New Target for ALL
Bryan Subaru & LLS Bring Comfort to Patients Through Subaru Loves to Care Initiative
Repurposed Drug Approach May Halt Spread of Cancer Cells
Tulane Head and Neck Experts Lead Call for HPV Vaccines
American Cancer Society Updates Colorectal Cancer Screening Guidelines
Tulane Cancer Center Now Offering Imaging Tool to Detect Recurring Prostate Cancer
Grant Supports Smoking Cessation Education for Outpatient Mental Health Facilities
It's All About the Pink - Third Annual Pink Bra Run Supports Breast Cancer Research
Cancer Crusaders Donate $169,000 to Tulane/LSU Cancer Research Programs
Grant Supports Smoking Cessation Program for Newly Diagnosed Cancer Patients
Med Student Takes Top Honors at Recent Meeting
State Rep. Julie Stokes to Lead 3rd Annual Pink Bra 5K Fun Run
7th Annual One Man Shoot Raises $130,000 for Prostate Cancer Research
Grant Supports Smoking Cessation Program For Newly Diagnosed Cancer Patients
Researcher Explores Unique Genetic Mutation Associated with Liver Cancer
Healing Hands Across the Divide: Evolving to Address Cancer Disparities
Gunning for a Cure Raises $192K for Prostate Cancer Research
Tulane Oncologist Outlines Prostate Cancer Treatment Advances in New England Journal of Medicine
Pink Games raise money — and hope — for patients fighting cancer
May 25, 2017
Prostate Cancer Immunotherapy Works Better for African-American Men
Cancer Crusaders Present Check for $210K
Free Skin Cancer Screenings Offered at Downtown Dermatology Clinic
National Cancer Survivor's Day
Second Annual Pink Bra Run -
Great Fun for a Great Cause
April 25, 2017
"Scarless Thyroid Surgery" on Agenda at Thyroid/Parathyroid & Skin Malignancies Symposia
Free Skin Cancer Screenings Offered at Covington Clinic
Second Annual Pink Bra Run Scheduled for Mother's Day Weekend
April 11, 2017
Tulane Researcher Shows Education Can Ease Fear in Cancer Patients
Thanks A Million!
March 10, 2017
Komen Grant Supports Study of Ductal Carcinoma In Situ
One Man Can Make a Difference: 6th Annual One Man Shoot Takes Aim at Prostate Cancer
2017 Gunning for a Cure Fundraiser Exceeds $500,000 Goal!
February 16, 2017
Leading Study Backs Hormone Therapy With Radiation for Recurrent Prostate Cancer
Victory Bell: Donation Helps Cancer Patients Celebrate Survivorship
February 3, 2017
Genetic Counselors Help Patients Better Understand Inherited Cancer Risk
Perez Family Targets Prostate Cancer Through Sporting Clays Event
January 26, 2017
Tulane Researchers Find Tumor-Suppressing Protein Actually Promotes Cancer
Tickled Pink: Local Student Athletes Assist Breast Cancer Patients