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Rep. Sharice Davids visits The University of Kansas Cancer Center

Davids secured federal funding to provide advanced imaging equipment for the cancer center that will accelerate the research necessary to create new and better therapies.

U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids of Kansas with KU cancer researcher Stefan Bossmann, Ph.D.

The University of Kansas Cancer Center welcomed U.S. Representative Sharice Davids today to tour a research laboratory and learn more about how new advanced imaging equipment will accelerate cancer biology research, ultimately leading to new and better treatments for cancer patients in Kansas and beyond.

The new IVIS/Quantum X2 Ultra-High-Resolution Imaging Station is scheduled to arrive in June and funded by $1 million requested by Rep. Davids, part of $15.7 million in federal funds she secured to support projects in Kansas’ Third District.

“On behalf of The University of Kansas Cancer Center, I would like to thank Representative Davids and Congress for their support,” said Roy A. Jensen, M.D., vice chancellor and director of The University of Kansas Cancer Center. “Federal funding for cancer research is crucial for advances in cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis, treatment and quality of life for patients. This state-of-the-art preclinical imaging facility will have a direct positive impact on thousands of Kansans who are battling cancer and benefit the entire regional scientific community.”

On her visit, Davids toured the research laboratory of Stefan Bossmann, Ph.D., interim chair of the Department of Cancer Biology at KU Cancer Center. Bossmann’s lab develops potential drugs and ways to package those drugs—what he called his “gift-wrapping business”—in such a way that the drug targets the cancerous tumor while bypassing healthy cells. The drug must also be developed so that the immune system recognizes the drug as part of the immune system and doesn’t attack it.

The new equipment enables cancer researchers like Bossmann to observe, in a non-invasive way, how the tumor microenvironment in an animal model responds and changes in response to potential new drugs, how those compounds are absorbed and distributed in the body over time, and also other biological events. 

“We need this new equipment because different kinds of tumors have different microenvironments,” said Bossmann. “Some tumors, you can deliver drugs to easily, but some close themselves off. Let’s say they form a castle. This imaging tells us what this castle is: How high and thick are the walls? Are there tunnels? Is there a moat? So we’re getting solid biophysical parameters that allow us to then model a tumor environment in the human body.”

New and better treatments are crucial for the roughly 30% of cancer patients that physicians cannot treat successfully, Jensen explained. Over the past four years, five new drugs have been developed at KU Cancer Center, which is currently up for the second renewal of its National Cancer Institute designation.  KU Cancer Center has applied for “comprehensive" status, the NCI’s highest ranking, which would put it in the same category as other prestigious cancer centers such as M.D. Anderson and Memorial Sloan Kettering.

“The University of Kansas Cancer Center is already a source of hope for cancer patients and their loved ones, for physicians and researchers, and for aspiring medical students. I’m glad to help further that reputation and our work towards treatment breakthroughs by delivering this new imaging machine,” said Davids. “This project passed detailed reviews and vetting, and it will ensure that Kansas continues to lead in the field of cancer research and treatment.”



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