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Hormel Institute project targets prevention of prostate cancer

Post-Bulletin, Rochester, Minn.

01-20-09

Jan. 19--A $1 million federal grant is going to the Hormel Institute to study an herbal compound's ability to help prevent prostate cancer.

The National Institutes of Health also is providing another $525,000 for supporting the costs related to the project, according to the Hormel Institute.

Junxuan "Johnny" Lu, a cancer biology professor at the Hormel Institute in Austin, will lead the five-year project to study an herbal compound known as PGG, or 1,2,3,4,6-penta-O-galloyl-beta-D-glucose, which is present in some Asian medicinal herbals, officials at the institute said.

Cell studies indicate the compound might have a strong cancer inhibitory effect, researchers say.

Prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in American men and was expected to kill about 29,000 people nationwide in 2008, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Work on the project started earlier this month in the institute's labs, Lu said.

"What we hope is to prevent the cancer from ever happening," Lu said during an interview last week in his second-floor office at the institute's newly expanded building.

The researcher probably will want to first target men with high risk, he said, then eventually see if it's good for the general public.

If the research proves PGG is a safe and effective cancer preventive compound in models, the Hormel Institute plans to do further research to plan for human clinical trials, Hormel Institute says. The goal is to benefit both prostate-cancer patients and men's health, in general.

A collaboration between Lu, the grant's principal investigator, and professor Sung Hoon Kim led to the project, officials said. Kim is a visiting professor at the institute from Kyung Hee University in Seoul, South Korea.

The Hormel Institute is a University of Minnesota research unit and a research collaborative partner with Mayo Clinic.

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