For the second time, a study of how decreasing a certain protein might fight cancer has earned its author a research grant.
It was the second grant in six months for Linda G. Baum, a Sherman Oaks resident and an associate professor of pathology at the UCLA School of Medicine.
The $75,000 Glycoscience Research Award from Neose Technologies Inc., a biotechnology company in Horsham, Pa., will enable Baum and her staff to continue their investigation of the cancer-fighting abilities of the immune system.
"Improved understanding of the mechanisms that regulate immune cell behavior will give us a good chance to correct deficiencies in the immune system and may lead us toward cures for diseases where immune mechanisms have gone awry," said David Zopf, chairman of the award committee and a vice president of Neose.
Baum's research involves galectin-1, a protein produced by the human thymus gland and lymph nodes.
While galectin-1 normally induces the self-destruction of the immune system's T cells after they have been used and are no longer needed by the body, Baum believes that cancer tumors might be forcing the T cells to be rejected prematurely.
Researchers are studying ways to keep the T cells in the body longer to recognize and process tumor cells, including ways to alter sugars on the surface of the T cells to determine what makes them susceptible to galectin-1, Baum said.
The award follows a grant of more than $300,000 that Baum received from the American Cancer Society in December.