Researcher receives major grant to study gene's potential for suppressing tumor cells
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IMAGE: This is Rajagopal Ramesh, University of Oklahoma. view more 

Credit: University of Oklahoma

Oklahoma City — Lung cancer is a notoriously difficult type of cancer to treat because, in most cases, it has spread to other parts of the body by the time it is discovered.

However, if microscopic lung tumor cells could be detected earlier, treatment might have a better chance of being effective. Rajagopal Ramesh, Ph.D., a researcher at the Stephenson Cancer Center at OU Medicine, recently received a five-year, $1.6 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to further study a gene that shows promise in suppressing tumor cells.

Ramesh’s research focuses on gene-based therapeutics – using the body’s own genes to prevent or treat cancer rather than drugs or surgery. For this study, Ramesh and his research team are studying a gene called interleukin 24, or IL-24. Previous studies have shown IL-24 to suppress tumor growth, and it is safe to insert into a patient’s cells. But to harness the gene to its full potential, Ramesh knew he had to dig deeper into one question: Why does IL-24 have the ability to suppress tumors when other genes in its family cannot?

“To understand what

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