New health grants from tobacco money

AUGUST 20, 2012

The money comes from the Tobacco Settlement Act of 2001.

It goes to projects that aim to improve our health.

One project, receiving $909,000 is the Institute for Hepatitis and Virus Research in Doylestown. Scientists there are working on better treatments for liver cancer.

UE LifeSciences in Philadelphia also got a grant. It will receive $878,000 for its work on a better way to screen women with dense breasts for breast cancer. Many times, cancer can be missed on a mammogram if a woman has dense breasts.

Their "No Touch Breast Scanner" addresses that problem. It is already in use in India, with promising results. It received FDA clearance in March 2012, and could be in use in the U-S soon.

A third grant went to Thomas Jefferson University for work on a test that will detect colon cancer earlier. That grant is for $744,000.

The fourth and largest grant, for $991,000, was to the Wistar Institute, to advance groundbreaking work on a blood test that can detect lung cancer in its early stages. Louise Showe, Ph.d., is pursuing the theory that lung cancer produces specific markers in the blood.

In 2008, Action News first detailed the effort of Dr. Showe and her researcher-husband. They have mapped millions of genes, looking for common chemical markers in the blood, and they have been able to differentiate between different cancers, an important step in zeroing in on.

Showe, and all of the recipients say this money will help them help more people in the future with their research.

"They all really have the potential of essentially making care, diagnosis and therapy better for a variety of pretty bad diseases," she says.

Dr. Showe says many times it is very difficult to get enough funding to bring an idea into the clinical setting, where it can help people.

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