The USC College of Pharmacy is working to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy on pediatric cancer patients with a new influx of grant money from an organization supported by some of USC's own.
The college received a $100,000 grant earlier this year from the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising money for childhood cancer research.
The money from the grant will fund research conducted by professor Jing Fang, who will investigate a protein discovered to be high in kids with cancer. This protein, if reduced, could kill leukemia cells while preserving normal cells. The hope is to find an agent to act on the protein that will lower the protein and reduce the effects of chemotherapy for the patients.
“What is hoped is that she finds a compound or two that act on that protein and reduce cancer cell growth and then to take that into pre-clinical trials and clinical trials which could include human subjects,” said dean of the college of pharmacy Stephen Cutler.
Fang wants to use her research to make a difference in the lives of young people who suffer from the disease.
“Our dream is to have children with leukemia live a happy life like everyone else,” Fang said.
USC’s chapter of Kappa Psi, a pharmaceutical professional fraternity on campus, participates in the St. Baldrick Foundation’s philanthropic mission. Each year, members of the fraternity shave their heads to raise money for the organization, and have raised $18,670 since 2012.
“Childhood cancer research is underfunded, and us being a part of the College of Pharmacy, we are a direct line from the fundraising and the research,” second-year pharmacy student and service chair for Kappa Psi Blake Sloan said. “So while a regular person might raise the money, they might never see a result from it, but especially with us, we are gonna see and maybe even put use to that money that is raised.”
Last year, the St. Baldrick’s Foundation gave a grant to the College of Pharmacy in the amount of $50,000. Co-organizer of the St. Baldrick's Columbia event, Krystle Eckrote, emphasized the importance of St. Baldrick's mission.
“The more that we’re out there, that people are aware of this foundation and what we can do, we can actually get to the point where I think we can get rid of childhood cancer," Eckrote said.