Gerald P Murphy masthead

Foundation Update: Summer 2002

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

The Murphy Foundation is collaborating with the Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC) and the Department of Defense Center for Prostate Disease Research (DoD CPDR) in a research project to determine Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) levels and PSA change over time (PSA velocity) in young Caucasian and African American men ages 20-45. Funded by grants from the Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine (Rockville, MD), the study tracked the PSA levels of 588 African American and 588 Caucasian men over a six year period. The results of this study published in the journal Urology show that although baseline serum PSA levels were higher among the African American men, PSA velocity is greater in the Caucasian men by comparison. The study headed by Dr. Judd Moul at the WRAMC will have an impact on tracking younger men with high-risk profiles for later development of prostate cancer. A new WRAMC-Murphy Foundation research study is underway to compare the percent free PSA in Caucasian and African American men. More information on the DoD CPDR can be found at

Pet-Assisted technology may prove to be the key to accelerating the development of new cancer drugs. The Murphy Foundation has been sought out by several drug development companies for our expertise in the biology and treatment of the naturally-occurring cancers in pet dogs. Unlike the popular means of testing new drugs in rodents artificially induced with cancer, the naturally-occurring prostate and bone cancers of pet dogs appear to mimic more closely the progression of cancer in humans. Among those biotech companies the Murphy Foundation currently collaborates with is Attenuon – a San Diego based biotech company developing new treatments for lethal metastatic cancers. Initial studies are targeting the spread of osteosarcoma, a virulent bone cancer affecting teenagers that has a mortality rate of nearly 40%. If successful, the overarching goal of this collaboration is to create a strategic business model in which pet dogs with naturally-occurring cancers can be utilized to streamline the preclinical development of new anticancer agents.

Recent national presentations made by Murphy Foundation scientists have highlighted progress in evaluating the effect of the trace mineral selenium in the prevention of prostate cancer. The research findings were presented by the Foundation’s Executive Director, Dr. David Waters, and Research Associate Dr. Shuren Shen at two scientific meetings: The American Association for Cancer Research Special Conference on Cancer Research – New Discoveries in Prostate Cancer Biology and Treatment in Fort Myers, Florida; and The 33 rd Annual Scientific Meeting of the Environmental Mutagen Society Meeting in Anchorage, Alaska. The results of these studies, funded by a research grant from the Department of Defense Prostate Cancer Research Program, indicate that daily supplementation selenium significantly reduces DNA damage within prostate cells. This research demonstrates the Foundation’s commitment to the discovery of practical prostate cancer prevention strategies. This work is the culmination of a joint research agreement between the Murphy Foundation and Purdue University, and continued collaborations with top scientists in the fields of selenium and prostate pathology including Dr. David Bostwick (Bostwick Labs, Richmond, VA), Dr. Gerald F. Combs, Jr. (Cornell University), and Dr. J. Steven Morris (University of Missouri).

The 18th International Cancer Congress takes place in Oslo, Norway this summer from June 30 – July 5. For 35 years Gerald P. Murphy served as Secretary General of the International Union Against Cancer (UICC), sponsor of the global event. Two years ago the Foundation hosted the UICC for a convention in Seattle, where Dr. David J. Waters was introduced as Dr. Murphy’s successor as Executive Director of the Foundation, renamed in his honor. This summer the Foundation’s ambassador to the conference in Oslo will be Trustee Bridget Murphy, who will carry to the gathering all the news of our most recent accomplishments. Additionally, the Foundation has underwritten two UICC travel grant awards for the Oslo meeting. Recipients of the awards are Dr. Vijay Kumar from the Section of Urology, Medical College of Georgia, and Dr. Vaclav Vetvicka, Univ. of Louisville School of Medicine, Dept. of Pathology.

Two new patents have been awarded to the Murphy Foundation for new non-invasive methods for improved detection of prostate cancer. The inventions are based, in part, on the discovery that the proportion of prostate cells among epithelial cells present in a body fluid sample is higher in men with prostate cancer than in men who are cancer free. Dr. Murphy, developer of the widely used PSA test for detection of prostate cancer, recognized that the number of false positives associated with the original serum PSA test called for further refinement of better and less invasive detection methods. Announcements of these most recent patents pay tribute to his legacy in seeking the next best science in the early detection, treatment, and prevention of prostate cancer. Check our web site at for a complete version of the press release related to these patents.

Foundation Update is a tri-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 us at 877-493-5175.