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March 2, 1995


PCI gets $2.9 million to study biological response modifiers

The Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (PCI) has received a five-year, $2.9 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to expand its program of clinical trials using biological response modifiers (BRMs), agents that boost the body's immunity against cancer.

BRMs include interleukins and interferons, hormone-like substances that regulate cells participating in an immune response, and natural killer cells, which target and destroy tumors.

PCI investigators are exploring new strategies to improve treatments using BRMs. These include delivering potent BRMs to specific sites using gene therapy; tagging the surface of tumor cells with special markers so they are recognized by the immune system; using BRMs that prevent the spread of tumor cells into nearby blood vessels, and combining BRMs with other agents that kill tumor cells or halt their proliferation.

Curently, PCI has more than 20 clinical protocols using BRMs.


NCI grant awarded to University for colon cancer research

The National Cancer Institute has awarded a $533,000 grant to study early detection methods of colon cancer to Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (PCI) researcher Theresa White-side.The research will focus on the molecular biology of colon cancer, a disease that strikes 150,000 and kills about 60,000 each year in the United States. As part of the grant, investigators will study changes in a cancer-causing gene and in genes that normally supress the development of colon cancers. They also will study changes in genes responsible for repairing damage to other genes.


Pitt study of drug therapies for chronic hepatitas C is funded

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) has received two grants totaling nearly $900,000 to study drug therapies for chronic hepatitas C, a serious liver disease that often necessitates transplantation when other treatments fail. The grants will enable approximately 50 Pittsburgh area residents with chronic hepatitas C to receive medical treatment at no cost. Hepatitas C affects approximately 170,000 Americans each year, half of whom develop a chronic form of the disease. Nearly 80 percent of these patients fail to respond to treatments currently available.

Both grants enable patients who qualify and participate in the studies to receive treatment and associated medical tests at no cost.

For more information, call Bill Roland, 648-3200.


Free treatment available for clinically depressed teens

Researchers at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic are offering, through a research study, free treatment for teenagers with clinical depression.

As many as 1 million teens in this country suffer from clinical depression. Without the proper treatment, the depression can sometimes lead to suicide.


WPIC study evaluates treatment programs for abusive families

A five-year project at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic has yielded preliminary results that are being considered for use by the National Center for Child Abuse and Neglect to standardize and improve treatment services.

The center funded this and four other studies in an effort to evaluate the effectiveness of alternative treatment programs for physically abusive families. Pitt's study evaluated the effectiveness of individual and family treatments for 56 physically abusive families in the Pittsburgh area. Researchers found that levels of high-risk behavior during treatment, such as parental use of force or excessive parent anger, were lower for families who received individual child and parent training in coping and self-control skills than for families who received family group therapy.

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