University of Georgia cancer researchers recently received multi-million dollar grants to continue their exploration for new methods of detecting silent killers using the most advanced technologies available.
Karen Abbott and Michael Pierce received two, five-year grants from the National Institutes of Health totaling more than $4.1 million to support their projects.
Their work aims to help find cancers early, when doctors have the best chance to help their patients fight the disease.
Both researchers are searching for ways to detect specific kinds of glycans, which are tiny sugar molecules found on the outside of proteins that sometimes appear in blood and tissue during the earliest stages of cancer formation.
If Abbott and Pierce can isolate the glycomarkers and detect them in blood, they may develop new, non-invasive tests that doctors could use to screen for cancer as part of a regular checkup.
As part of the new grant, Pierce and his colleagues are also expanding their search for more disease-specific glycomarkers by studying two types of cells associated with the early development of pancreatic cancer.
Ultimately, both Pierce and Abbott hope the glycans they identify and study not only will serve as reliable diagnostics for extraordinarily deadly cancers, but also pave the way for future research and collaborative projects exploring these important and understudied molecules.