Studying low risk for solid tumors in people with Down syndrome could lead to new treatments for bladder cancer
KU researcher John Taylor, M.D., received a Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network Innovation Award to investigate the biological reasons that people with Down syndrome are less likely to develop bladder cancer.
People with Down syndrome have a lower risk of developing and dying from solid-tumor cancers, including bladder cancer. John Taylor, M.D, deputy director of the Institute for Advancing Medical Innovation at the University of Kansas Medical Center, is studying cancer resistance in this population in order to find new treatments for bladder malignancies.
In July, Taylor, who is also co-leader of Drug Discovery Delivery and Experimental Therapeutics at The University of Kansas Cancer Center, was one of two recipients of the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network Innovation Award. The $300,000 grant will fund Taylor’s work investigating the biological reasons that people with Down syndrome are less likely to develop bladder cancer, knowledge that can be used to develop new drugs that target these cellular mechanisms and put the brakes on the disease.
Taylor’s laboratory has already conducted a pilot study using a mouse model that revealed some genetic alterations that have the potential to be the target of a new drug. “With support from the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network Innovation Award, we can continue to explore this finding and dive deeper into mechanisms and pathways involved with the ultimate goal of improving outcomes for those with bladder cancer,” said Taylor.
The sixth most common type of malignancy in the United States, bladder cancer is underrecognized as a public health problem. Even though there are roughly 80,000 new cases diagnosed every year and more than 700,000 Americans living with the disease, bladder cancer is underfunded and there have been few advancements in treatments for decades. Moreover, despite a relatively high five-year survival rate, bladder cancer also has a high recurrence rate, making it one of the most expensive cancers to treat.
The research project funded by the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network Innovation award was the result of a “wonderful collaboration” between Taylor’s lab, the Institute for Advancing Medical Innovation at KU Medical Center and the Down syndrome community, Taylor said.
“As a long-time disability activist, caregiver and leader in the Down syndrome community, it’s great to see the scientific advancements and medical innovations happening in Kansas focused on understanding more about what makes people with Down syndrome special and how this knowledge can help the broader cancer community,” said Sara Weir, executive director of the Kansas Council on Developmental Disabilities.