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August 28, 2013 02:08 PM

Sanford Research Secures Two NIH Grants

Sioux Falls, SD

A pair from Sanford Research has received separate grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) totaling more than $2.6 million for studies involving genomic proteins and a cancer-killing drug.

Kyle J. Roux, PhD, earned a five-year, $1.52 million award from the NIH’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) for his project titled “Developing methods for proximity-dependent protein labeling.”

Keith Miskimins, PhD, and his study, “Molecular mechanisms by which the diabetic drug metformin kills cancer cells,” will receive more than $1.18 million over four years from the NIH’s National Cancer Institute (NCI).

Last year, Dr. Roux unveiled a new way to identify the proximity and interactions between proteins in living cells called BioID.  The system provides insight into the underlying mechanisms of disease. His grant will allow him to further develop BioID and advance the rate at which scientists characterize proteins and their interactions, which helps in the design of therapies for human disease.

“With the human genome sequenced, we have now shifted our attention toward the challenging task of characterizing the protein products of that genome,” said Dr. Roux. “The results of this study will provide the research community with the fundamental knowledge of the capabilities of BioID.”

Dr. Miskimins’ study will explore the molecular and cellular mechanisms by which metformin, a drug used to treat type 2 diabetes, kills cancer cells. In cultured cells and animal models, metformin has been found to kill cancer cells and slow tumor growth, but the drug behaves differently when other compounds are present or nutrient availability changes.

“We want to understand how the combinations of other compounds and nutrients affect cancer cells at the molecular level and provide a rationale for how they might be used clinically,” said Dr. Miskimins. “While this study will primarily focus on breast cancer, the results could be applicable to many types of cancer.”

This is the third NIH grant for Sanford Research this summer.  In July, Michael Kruer, MD, a Sanford pediatric neurologist and neurogeneticist, was awarded $860,000 in NIH funding to further genetic research on juvenile Parkinson's disease and dystonia.

The NIH, a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Policy, is the nation’s medical research agency.

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