A Precision Prevention Approach to Curing Cancer.


In the Bernard lab we study the mechanisms that underlie the onset of carcinogenesis, so we can find new targets for prevention. We have discovered that intra-abdominal (visceral) fat can promote carcinogenesis in in vitro models and animal models of high-fat diet-induced obesity by releasing fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF2) and activating FGFR1.  We aim to identify specific mechanisms of obesity-promoted cancer with a focus on visceral fat inflammation.  We are now exploring the translational relevance of FGF2 as a biomarker of adiposity-associated cancer risk. Additionally, we have interests in screening to identify new compounds that target our pathways for chemoprevention and identifying modifiable risk factors as a biomarkers of adiposity-associated cancer that are amenable to prevention and early intervention measures. Attractive compounds for chemoprevention include natural products. Historically, natural product extracts were the source of medications. Purified natural products have advantages in terms of standardization of dose and avoidance of side effects of other products in the mixtures.  We currently have collaborations and are seeking new collaborations to develop chemopreventive agents from purified natural products. The active compounds identified have the potential to lead to new scientific discoveries by providing compounds that will reveal new mechanisms and pathways of carcinogenesis as well as potential commercial licensing and spin-off opportunities for chemopreventive agents.