If someone in your life has cancer, there is a greater than 60 percent chance they will receive radiation treatment. Unfortunately, the treatment doesn’t always work. Dr. Samuel Sidi, an Associate Professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai, wanted to understand why tumors resist radiation, and find a solution.
A $600,000 grant from The Trust made it possible for Dr. Sidi to be awarded the Pershing Square Foundation’s Sohn Prize for Young Investigators.
Sidi found what he calls the “dirty little trick” cancer uses to resist radiation. Cells of our immune system express a specific protective enzyme which they use to avoid cell death in response to bacterial or viral infection. When exposed to radiation, cancer cells are able to hijack this enzyme and exploit its protective properties to avoid dying. When Sidi “turned off” the enzyme, cancer cells readily succumbed to radiation.
This discovery brought his lab one step closer to creating drugs that could resensitize tumors to radiation treatment.
After publishing his Trust-supported research, he went on to win competitive grants from the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute for General Medical Sciences, totaling $3.15 million, so he can continue his research.
“My goal has always been to help the largest number of people possible,” said Dr. Sidi. “This research should be able to help pharmaceutical companies create highly targeted medicines compatible with immunotherapy that would be available to millions of people.”