Research | Publications | Awards
Vinh A. Dao
Curiel lab - STRF- 238 Tel: (210) 562-4128Email:
Cancer is the second leading cause of US death, with an economic and social impact in the hundreds of billions of dollars each decade. Advances in treatments remain slow, and treatments are often toxic. Therefore, a widely applicable cancer prevention strategy would be a cost-effective approach to lessen the enormous economic, societal and personal burdens of cancer. It was reported in Nature (Harrison DE et al., 2009) that an enterically-released formulation of rapamycin (eRapa) appeared to extend lifespan of naïve mice by delaying or preventing cancer development. Rapamycin inhibits growth of existing tumors in mouse cancer models, and is being tested in clinical trials to treat human cancers, but there has been relatively little focus on rapamycin in cancer prevention. Rapamycin inhibits mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR), which regulates cellular growth and metabolism. Thus, much of the focus of rapamycin in cancer has centered on mTOR inhibition in tumor cells. However, mTOR also has significant immune modulating properties that are surprisingly little studied in cancer treatment or prevention.
Vinh’s research proposes to determine whether immune effects of eRapa are important in cancer prevention, particularly in a carcinogen (DMBA) and inflammation (TPA)-induced mouse model of skin cancer. The main hypothesis is that eRapa protects from carcinogen-induced dermal carcinogenesis through a non-T cell, interferon (IFN)-γ-dependent mechanism. Two hypotheses will be tested: 1) That eRapa improves natural killer (NK) cell cancer immune surveillance through IFN-γ effects; and 2) That IFN-γ reduces DMBA/TPA-induced carcinogenesis by inhibiting skin cancer stem cell replication. These studies will contribute to the rational use of rapamycin and other mTOR inhibitors as novel broad spectrum cancer prevention agents.
Hobbies and Interests
Vinh is an avid rock climber and motorcyclist.