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Foundation Update: Fall 2003

Highlights from the latest developments at the Gerald P. Murphy Cancer Foundation:

Murphy Foundation scientists have reported new findings on the prostate cancer fighting mechanism of selenium. Selenium, an essential constituent of the body’s antioxidant defense system, is currently being evaluated in a large-scale prostate cancer prevention trial in men. However, the mechanism of how selenium exerts its anticancer effects is not known. Because oxidant damage has been linked with many cancers, including prostate cancer, some scientists have suspected that any anticancer benefit from selenium probably would trace to its antioxidant contribution. New research from the Murphy Foundation suggests that at least one of selenium’s primary anticancer benefits may be its protection or repair of a suicide switch in genetically damaged cells. “We studied elderly beagles physiologically equivalent to 65-year-old men in order to evaluate the effect of selenium on prostate cells in an appropriate context … in vivo in an aging prostate gland,” said Dr. David J. Waters, who led the research team. In this study supported by the Department of Defense Prostate Cancer Research Program, 7 months of daily oral selenium supplementation significantly reduced the accumulation of DNA damage within prostate cells. In the February 5, 2003 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, the group also reported that selenium treatment was accompanied by a two-fold increase in prostate cell apoptosis. Apoptosis, an orderly process of cell death, can remove damaged cells from the prostate, which may lower the risk of cancer. “This is an important finding. Dogs are the closest animal models to humans when it comes to prostate cancer,” said Ian Thompson, MD, Professor and Chief of Urology, University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio in an interview with Urology Times. The importance of this work, which is joint research with Purdue University, has been recognized by Science News Online, WebMD, and For more information on selenium and prostate cancer, feel free to explore the Murphy Foundation website ( under the section “About Selenium”.

The Murphy Foundation is actively enrolling men in the NIH sponsored SELECT prostate cancer prevention trial. Chosen as one of 400 study sites throughout North America, the Murphy Foundation is proud to participate in the largest prostate cancer prevention trial ever conducted. The Foundation is conducting this trial under the supervision of the Northern Indiana Cancer Research Consortium (NICRC), a cooperative oncology group in South Bend, Indiana that has a long track record in clinical research related to cancer control.

Inna Savikhin, RN is the newest member of the Murphy Foundation staff. Ms. Savikhin joins the Foundation team as Clinical Trials Coordinator with more than 3 years experience in clinical research.

The Ismail Center for Health, Exercise, and Nutrition at Purdue University has joined forces with the Murphy Foundation to conduct the SELECT trial. “Compelling evidence that cancer-fighting nutrients like vitamin E and selenium can actually prevent cancer must come from large-scale clinical trials in humans”, stated Dr. Gerald C. Hyner, who heads the Ismail Center’s study team and serves as Associate Director of the Purdue Center on Aging and the Life Course. “The SELECT trial is an important step toward the goal of prostate cancer prevention and we are excited about the opportunity to work with the Murphy Foundation on this pivotal research study,” said Hyner. For more information about the SELECT trial contact Ms. Savikhin at or (765) 775-1005.

A new report analyzes the risk factors for human prostate cancer. The 250 page report is a consensus of a conference entitled “Human Prostate Cancer Risk and the Environment” that was sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency and convened in September 2002. Dr. Waters was one of 11 scientists who co-authored the report. Scientists critically evaluated the current understanding of environmental factors and mechanisms of prostatic carcinogenesis and existing gaps in our knowledge. “The report provides an important benchmark against which future progress in the field of prostate cancer prevention will be measured,” said Dr. David G. Bostwick, MD, who led the project.

The Murphy Foundation has launched a clinical trial testing a new state-of-the-art treatment for bone cancer in pet dogs. The goal of this research is to identify a more effective treatment for osteosarcoma, the lethal form of bone cancer that affects both pet dogs and children. This study exemplifies the Foundation’s vision of PATH to Progress®. The Foundation seeks to accelerate the development and application of new strategies to prevent and treat cancer and to slow down the adverse consequences of aging. In PATH to Progress®, we are compassionately treating pet dogs suffering from the same kinds of cancers that naturally develop in man and man’s best friend. Pet dogs with naturally-occurring cancer are enrolled in clinical trials to rigorously test new life-saving treatments that will ultimately lead to human application. “This comparative approach provides new hope for both pets and people affected by cancer”, said Dr. Dawn M. Cooley, DVM, who is coordinating the bone cancer study. Study sites in Seattle, WA; Chicago, IL; Greenville, SC; and South Bend, IN are currently approved for the bone cancer treatment trial.

Dr. Waters has been named to the National Scientific Advisory Committee of the American Federation of Aging Research (AFAR). AFAR is a not-for-profit organization that supports research on the biology of aging. As a member of the advisory committee, Dr. Waters assists in the scientific peer-review of grant applications submitted by investigators throughout the United States.

The Murphy Foundation participated in the American Urologic Association (AUA) Summer Research Conference on Prostate Cancer in Houston, Texas in August 2003. Dr. Waters was chosen as one of 29 speakers who provided young investigators in the field of urology with up-to-the-minute information on prostate cancer research. The meeting featured a keynote presentation on the biology of cancer metastasis by Dr. Isaiah J. Fidler, DVM, PhD, Chairman of the Department of Cell Biology at the MD Anderson Cancer Center. By participating in this conference, the Murphy Foundation intends to positively influence the next generation of scientists in the field of prostate cancer research. The Foundation is consolidating its operation in the Midwest. As part of our business strategy to reduce overhead costs, the Foundation has closed its Seattle research facility and is consolidating its laboratory and clinical operations in the Midwest. Effective June 30, 2003 the new primary address for the Murphy Foundation is our laboratory and offices in West Lafayette, Indiana as noted on our masthead. As you can see from the significant accomplishments outlined in this newsletter, the Murphy Foundation continues to be both national and global in both reputation and impact. In the future, we will continue to make strategic business decisions and pursue collaborative research partnerships that will allow the Foundation to maximize use of grant and donor dollars to directly support cutting-edge research on cancer prevention and treatment.

September is a Blue Ribbon Month! The blue ribbons call attention to Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, as designated by the U.S. Senate, focusing on the second leading cause of cancer among men – a diagnosis that one in six American men will receive in their lifetime. The ribbons are available in your local grocery, with donations going to CaPCURE, one of the leading private research funders exclusively for the cure of prostate cancer. For specific information about events and activities in your area, visit and type in your location. This month, scientists along with thousands of families whose lives have been touched by this disease are focusing on the exciting prospect of preventing prostate cancer. Our research on prostate cancer prevention is supported by grants from the Department of Defense Prostate Cancer Research Program along with gifts and pledges from individuals who recognize the importance of this work. If you would like to find out how you can support our prostate cancer research directly, email us at

Foundation Update is a bi-annual newsletter published by the Gerald P. Murphy Cancer Foundation, a not-for-profit research foundation supported by grants from federal, corporate, and private foundation sources, and by donations from individuals. For information on making tax-deductible donations to the Foundation, please contact Deborah Wright, our Business Development Director, toll-free at 877-493-5175 or complete the information below and fax to (765) 775-1006 or mail to 3000 Kent Ave, Suite E2-100, West Lafayette, IN 47906.