Fox Chase Researcher Lands NCI Grant to Study Cancer Epigenetics

Andrew J. Andrews, PhD, and his team attempted to map acetylation of H3 in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, more commonly known as baker’s yeast. “By looking at a simple system without the complex levels of regulatory functions seen in humans, we can get a better understanding of what Asf1 is doing before adding additional complexity,” Andrews said.
Andrews’ contribution to the study is his expertise in histone acetylation, by which DNA is made available for cellular processes.

PHILADELPHIA (September 9, 2019) – A researcher at Fox Chase Cancer Center has been awarded a $33,348 grant from the National Cancer Institute for research attempting to determine the fundamental processes by which cancer cells can sense deficiencies in the production of essential metabolic components and adapt to overcome this and survive. The researcher, Andrew J. Andrews, PhD, is an associate professor with the Cancer Epigenetics program.

The study, led by Kathryn Wellen, PhD, an associate professor of cancer biology at the University of Pennsylvania, is focusing on the subcellular location of acetyl-CoA and the mechanism by which cells monitor its production and availability. Acetyl-CoA is a coenzyme that plays an essential role in cellular metabolism; without it, the viability of cells is greatly impaired.

Previous studies have shown that targeting a cell’s normal acetyl-CoA synthesizing methods forces cells to use adaptive measures, but the mechanism by which cells can sense this and respond has yet to be determined. The research team hopes that gaining an understanding of how cells are performing these functions, as well as determining the essential role of nuclear-cytosolic acetyl-CoA for cellular viability, will lead to the development of more effective targeted therapies.

Andrews’ contribution to the study is his expertise in histone acetylation, by which DNA is made available for cellular processes. He will assist the team by performing mass spectrometry studies to better understand the process by which cells monitor and respond to fluctuations in acetyl-CoA concentration.

The Cancer Epigenetics program at Fox Chase uses a multidisciplinary approach to combine translational research to reduce morbidity and mortality associated with cancer by focusing on biomarkers and therapeutic approaches. It is a network of researchers that focus on biomarkers for early detection, risk assessment, efficacy of specific drug therapies, and clinical trials of epigenetic therapies. The program seeks to ensure the research translates into clinical effectiveness.

Fox Chase Cancer Center (Fox Chase), which includes the Institute for Cancer Research and the American Oncologic Hospital and is a part of Temple Health, is one of the leading comprehensive cancer centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase is also one of just 10 members of the Alliance of Dedicated Cancer Centers. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence six consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach. It is the policy of Fox Chase Cancer Center that there shall be no exclusion from, or participation in, and no one denied the benefits of, the delivery of quality medical care on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity/expression, disability, age, ancestry, color, national origin, physical ability, level of education, or source of payment.

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