University of Hawaii System newsletter

Cancer Researcher Receives Innovator Award

Posted on | June 4, 2010 | Comments Off on Cancer Researcher Receives Innovator Award

Bachmann headshot

Mānoa’s André Bachmann is the recipient of the inaugural Weinman Innovator Award for Translational Research. The Cancer Research Center of Hawaiʻi associate professor will receive $50,000 to support his work on neuroblastoma, an aggressive pediatric tumor originating in nerve tissue cells.

Bachmann’s research proposal is based on his application of a novel way to kill neuroblastoma tumors, which has resulted in the successful development and activation of a clinical trial for children with advanced neuroblastoma. This treatment concept involves repurposing an old drug, DFMO or alpha-difluoromethylornithine, which is FDA-approved for the treatment of African sleeping sickness, and is orally available with a high safety profile.

In the treatment of African sleeping sickness, DFMO targets a protein called ornithine decarboxylase that is produced by the parasite responsible for the illness. In its application against neuroblastoma, DFMO also targets ornithine decarboxylase, which is responsible for producing molecules called polyamines that, if present in high amounts, transform normal cells to cancerous cells that reproduce uncontrollably.

“I am glad to see that there is a growing trend in medical science to take a fresh look at forgotten drugs and to repurpose them for new applications,” says Bachmann. “If new applications can be found for a drug that has gone through all the pharmacology testing and clinical trials, it saves time and money. Developing a new drug from start to finish costs millions of dollars, and the drug can ‘drop out’ at any stage of research and development. A repurposed drug may in many cases be safer and cheaper.”

This annual award is funded as a component of the $1.7 million Weinman Foundation Fund for Innovation endowment to the Cancer Research Center of Hawaiʻi, provided by Virginia and Barry Weinman to support the development of cutting-edge cancer research.

Read the news release.