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Cancer research grants awarded

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Friday, November 4, 2011

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Media Contact: Herb Booth, Office:817-272-7075, Cell:214-546-1082, hbooth@uta.edu

The Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas has awarded two University of Texas at Arlington bioengineering researchers – Baohong Yuan and Liping Tang – more than $1.2 million to explore better methods of detecting cancer.

Yuan, an assistant professor who joined UT Arlington in 2010, this week won a $1 million award that he will use to create a better imaging system to detect cancer in deep tissue – tens of millimeters below the surface of the skin.

Tang, a bioengineering professor who work has focused on tissue engineering, won $200,000 that he will use to develop what he describes as a “chemical trap” that will mimic bone marrow, which attracts cancer cells.

Texas voters approved CPRIT via constitutional amendment in 2007, authorizing the state to issue $3 billion in bonds to fund groundbreaking cancer research and prevention programs and services in Texas. Under its latest grant cycle, the institute is providing more than $100 million to Texas cancer research projects. Statewide, the institute has awarded more than $550 million in funding for cancer research, prevention and commercialization projects over the last two years.

In Yuan’s research, high-resolution imaging of deep tissue has been a challenge in the biomedical imaging field for many years because the images it produces are blurry. Better images of deep tissue would allow doctors to monitor or evaluate tumor treatment, such as anti-angiogenic therapy that can stop the growth of blood vessels in tumors.

“We want to provide much clearer images of microvessels in deeply seated small tumors,” said Yuan, who combines elements of physics with bioengineering for most of his research interests. “With that information, physicians could better target the tumors for elimination.”

Tang’s new project focuses on developing the bone marrow mimics, which could be injected or implanted in a patient diagnosed with cancer.

Once they are trapped, the cancer cells can be more easily killed with targeted radiation or chemotherapy. Tang said the targeted treatment is easier on the patient and provides fewer side effects.

“It’s a decoy of sorts. We’re tricking the body into thinking there’s some bone marrow there,” Tang said. “Cancer often lodges in bone marrow before spreading to other parts of the body.”

Yuan’s and Tang’s new cancer-related research demonstrates UT Arlington’s work and how it can benefit the world, said Jean-Pierre Bardet, new dean of the College of Engineering.

“This is a growing field in research,” Bardet said. “It’s a great example of our researchers trying to help people through engineering.”

The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research institution of 33,421 students in the heart of North Texas. Visit www.uta.edu to learn more.

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The University of Texas at Arlington is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer.

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