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Fox Chase Cancer Center's Dr. Eric Moss Receives Charles E. Culpeper Foundation Pilot Grant

PHILADELPHIA (October 13, 1998) -- Dr. Eric G. Moss, a developmental biologist at Fox Chase Cancer Center who lives in Center City Philadelphia, has received a $25,000 biomedical pilot initiative grant from the Charles E. Culpeper Foundation, based in Stamford, Conn. The grant will help launch a research project to study "antisense" messages that block the activity of a specific gene.

Moss, who joined Fox Chase's basic science division last year, is investigating genes involved in early developmental events. One gene he is studying shuts down the activity, or "expression," of two other genes after they have fulfilled their role in cell division and specialization during the earliest stages of development.

The mechanism used to turn off these genes is a naturally occurring "antisense" molecule made of RNA (ribonucleic acid). Normally RNA is the messenger that carries instructions from DNA for making a protein, but in this case it also acts to cancel these orders. By revealing how this particular antisense mechanism works, Moss' research holds the potential for providing important information about the overall issue of gene expression and possible gene-based cancer therapies that could inhibit cancer-causing gene activity.

"Controlling the expression of specific genes that cause or exacerbate a disease is a key goal and antisense provides a general strategy for accomplishing it," Moss explained. "Compared to existing cancer treatments, blocking a gene's expression with antisense holds the promise of exquisite precision. This strategy would affect only the targeted gene and we would need to know only the DNA sequence of that gene to create a specific therapeutic agent."

Moss earned his bachelor's degree in microbiology at the University of Rochester, New York, and his Ph.D. in microbiology at Columbia University in New York City. Before joining Fox Chase, he held postdoctoral fellowships in the laboratory of Dr. Victor Ambros, first at Harvard University from 1991 to 1992 and then at Dartmouth College until 1997.

The Charles E. Culpeper Foundation is a private independent charitable foundation established under the will of Charles Emory Culpeper, one of the early pioneers in the bottling and marketing of Coca Cola. The Foundation makes grants in the areas of health, education, arts and culture, and the administration of justice.

The recently established Charles E. Culpeper Biomedical Pilot Initiative is designed to support the investigation of novel ideas, particularly in molecular genetics, bioengineering, molecular pharmacology and health services. Through this Initiative, the Culpeper Foundation makes grants of up to $25,000 on a one-time basis to explore new and even untested hypotheses. These grants could be viewed as "venture capital" investments that should lead to greater funding opportunities through traditional sources.

Fox Chase Cancer Center is one of 34 National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the nation. The Center's activities include basic and clinical research, prevention, detection and treatment of cancer and community outreach programs.

Fox Chase Cancer Center, part of the Temple University Health System, is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence four consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach.  For more information, call 1-888-FOX CHASE or (1-888-369-2427).

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