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Recipe for Health: Can Curry Cure Blood Cancers?
Researchers to further evaluate the potential benefits of natural compounds against certain cancers
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Gerardo Mackenzie, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Preventive Medicine, and Stony Brook University Cancer Center

STONY BROOK, NY, MAY 22, 2014 – Gerardo Mackenzie, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Preventive Medicine, and Stony Brook University Cancer Center was awarded a $179,000 grant investigating the prevention of Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  Recognizing Stony Brook Medicine’s expertise related to research in this area, the Jesse & Julie Rasch Foundation sponsored the grant.

“We are excited to be working with Dr. Mackenzie and the team at Stony Brook,” says Jesse Rasch, Chairman of the Rasch Foundation. “We believe that certain natural compounds have tremendous potential to both prevent and help treat blood cancers. Not enough is being done to evaluate these promising compounds, so we are delighted to help drive this research forward.”

Entitled “Evaluation of the anti-cancer effect of various compounds against Hodgkin’s lymphoma,” the study will evaluate the safety and efficacy of select test agents in preclinical models of Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Dr. Mackenzie and his team will study numerous compounds that have been linked to cancer prevention in general and prevention of Hodgkin’s lymphoma in particular.

A major focus of the research will be the evaluation of curcumin, one of the primary ingredients in turmeric and curry powders as well as various formulations of curcumin, specifically prepared to increase its bioavailability.  Besides curcumin, other natural compounds being investigated include polyphenols, aspirin, vitamins, minerals, fish oils, probiotics and other agents known to boost the immune system. In preclinical models of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, they will look at toxicities related to dosage as well as each compound’s potential for reducing tumor growth. If this approach is found to be successful, the team hopes, in the near future, to translate these novel therapies into viable methods for the prevention and treatment of Hodgkin’s lymphoma for patients. 

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Gerardo Mackenzie, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Preventive Medicine, with Lauren Bartels and Brandon Vaeth conducting research in the Cancer Prevention lab at Stony Brook University

“We are very pleased with the support from the Jesse and Julie Rasch Foundation,” says Dr. Mackenzie, the study’s principal investigator. “Hopefully, results from these studies will set the stage for the further evaluation of the most promising compounds for Hodgkin’s lymphoma.” In addition to Dr. Mackenzie, the team includes academic research pathologist Nengtai Ouyang, MD, PhD, research scientist George Matthaiolampakis, PhD, and lab technician Joseph Lacomb. 

About Stony Brook University Cancer Center:

Stony Brook University Cancer Center is Suffolk County’s cancer care leader and a leader in education and research. With more than 20,000 inpatient and outpatient visits annually, the Cancer Center includes 12 multidisciplinary teams: Breast Cancer; Colorectal Cancer; Gynecologic Oncology; Head, Neck and Thyroid Oncology; Lung Cancer; Melanoma; Neurologic Oncology; Orthopaedic Oncology and Sarcoma; Pediatric Hematology/Oncology; Stem Cell Transplantation and Hematologic Malignancy; Upper Gastrointestinal Oncology; and Urologic Oncology. The cancer program is accredited by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer as a Teaching Hospital Cancer Program and received the Commission’s Outstanding Achievement Award. The Carol M. Baldwin Breast Care Center is the first center in New York State to be accredited by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers. To learn more, visit www.cancer.stonybrookmedicine.edu.

About the Jesse & Julie Rasch Foundation:

The Jesse & Julie Rasch Foundation, headquartered in Toronto, Canada, is dedicated to driving change that will improve the health and quality of life for current and future generations. It takes a highly targeted, self-described “venture philanthropy” approach, actively investing with a goal of achieving “above average market returns.” It has funded research efforts in childhood eczema, fibromyalgia and Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It is particularly interested in the latter because they believe lymphomas do not generally attract the support and research dollars as some of the more “high profile” cancers. To learn more, visit www.raschfoundation.org