Cancer Research Partnership Between U of L and Owensboro Gets $5.5 Million Grant

May 16, 2014

The James Graham Brown Cancer Center in Louisville has been partnering with Owensboro Health in an effort to create new cancer vaccines.
Credit The University of Louisville

One of Kentucky’s most well-known cancer treatment centers is receiving a multi-million dollar grant to find new treatments and vaccines.

The James Graham Brown Cancer Center at the University of Louisville announced Friday that they have been given a three-year, $5.5 million dollar grant from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

The Center’s director, Doctor Donald Miller, says the grant will help continue a partnership between U of L and Owensboro Health that is exploring the use of plant-based pharmaceuticals and vaccines.

“We have two vaccines--one for cervical cancer, one for colon cancer that are ready to move forward  into early phase clinical trials, and this grant will primarily support the testing of those vaccines over the next three years,” Dr. Miller said.

The grant will also seek to further develop plant-based drugs that would allow a higher concentration of anti-cancer drugs to be delivered to tumors.

U of L researchers in Owensboro have for years been using tobacco plants to grow properties for use in cancer vaccines.

“We take a virus, modify it, infect the tobacco plants, and then two weeks later they’re loaded with the protein we want to express. Then that can be harvested and used to treat people,” Dr. Miller said.

Friday’s announcement represents the latest of several grants given to U of L by the Helmsley Charitable Trust. The Trust has, to date, provided the school with nearly $15 million in research funding.