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Pathobiology Research


Cancer Chemoprevention – NSAIDS, Dietary Compounds, and PPARgamma ligands

Seung J. Baek
Ph.D., University of Maryland
Associate Professor
Environmental Carcinogenesis Lab
Faculty Web Page


Cancer is second only to heart disease as the leading cause of death in the United States and colorectal cancer is one of the most prevalent causes of cancer-related mortality in the western world.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), PPARgamma, and certain dietary compounds are effective chemopreventive and anti-tumorigenic agents for several cancers, presumably via the induction of apoptosis; however, the mechanisms responsible for these properties remain largely unknown.

Dr. Baek’s research is directed towards elucidating the molecular mechanisms by which chemopreventive compounds exert their chemopreventive and anti-tumorigenic effects. In order to determine their modes of action, Dr. Baek’s group is focused on ascertaining the effects that NSAIDS and certain anti-cancer compounds and drugs have on gene expression.

Dr. Baek’s group recently identified a novel protein that appears to play a pivotal role in mediating the chemopreventive effects of many anti-cancer compounds, including NSAIDS and dietary compounds. This newly identified protein, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory activated gene-1 (NAG-1), is a member of the transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β) superfamily.

Dr. Baek has found that NAG-1 is induced by NSAIDS, has anti-tumorigenic properties, and stimulates apoptosis in colon cancer cell lines and in other cancer cell lines as well. Dr. Baek’s data indicate that the pro-apoptotic activity of NSAIDS may be linked to the expression of NAG-1.

Dr. Baek’s group is currently studying the transcriptional regulation of NAG-1, and they are working to determine the biological and pathophysiological roles of NAG-1 protein.

Information from Dr. Baek’s studies could lead to the development of new chemotherapeutic drugs.


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