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February 10, 2012

Foundation funds ULM pharmacy professor's cancer research

The Mizutani Foundation for Glycoscience, a grant-funding agency in Japan, supports the breast cancer research concept of a pharmacy professor at the University of Louisiana at Monroe.

Yong-Yu Liu, M.D., Ph.D., submitted a grant proposal to the foundation and was one of 16 funded proposals; 150 proposals were submitted from 27 countries.

His research will receive a boost of approximately $50,000.

College of Pharmacy Dean Benny Blaylock said, “Dr. Liu continues to garner recognition for his research as evidenced by being one of only four individuals in the US, and the only one in the South, to be funded by Mizutani Foundation for his cancer research.

The College of Pharmacy is very proud of Dr. Liu's work and his ongoing extramural funding success.”

Liu is an assistant professor of pharmacology in ULM’s Basic Pharmaceutical Sciences Department, where he has taught for six years.

His proposal deals with glycoscience, which is the study of complex carbohydrates, or glycans.

Liu will research how glycans affect cell functions and how they cause diseases—ultimately resulting in improved human healthcare.

Many scientists, including Liu, now believe that glycans are related to fundamental biological activities such as development and differentiation of cells and tissues, aging of individuals, immunoreactions, carcinogenesis and other pathogeneses, according to the MFG Web site.

Liu said, "We are interested to study what causes the poor response of cancer patients to chemotherapy. We are looking at new therapeutic approaches to improve cancer chemotherapy."

The pharmacy professor is hopeful he will discover which glycan will control the aggressive behavior of breast cancer stem cells.

“This would help us to understand where the cancer stem cells come from and how to effectively target cancer stem cells to improve cancer treatments."

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