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A survey of cancer prevalence within birds (the clave Aves).

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Cancer is a disease that occurs in many and perhaps all multicellular organisms. Current research is looking at how different life history characteristics among species could influence cancer rates. Because somatic maintenance is an important component of a species' life

Cancer is a disease that occurs in many and perhaps all multicellular organisms. Current research is looking at how different life history characteristics among species could influence cancer rates. Because somatic maintenance is an important component of a species' life history, we hypothesize the same ecological forces shaping the life history of a species should also determine its cancer susceptibility. By looking at varying life histories, potential evolutionary trends could be used to explain differing cancer rates. Life history theory could be an important framework for understanding cancer vulnerabilities with different trade-offs between life history traits and cancer defenses. Birds have diverse life history strategies that could explain differences in cancer suppression. Peto's paradox is the observation that cancer rates do not typically increase with body size and longevity despite an increased number of cell divisions over the animal's lifetime that ought to be carcinogenic. Here we show how Peto’s paradox is negatively correlated for cancer within the clade, Aves. That is, larger, long-lived birds get more cancer than smaller, short-lived birds (p=0.0001; r2= 0.024). Sexual dimorphism in both plumage color and size differ among Aves species. We hypothesized that this could lead to a difference in cancer rates due to the amount of time and energy sexual dimorphism takes away from somatic maintenance. We tested for an association between a variety of life history traits and cancer, including reproductive potential, growth rate, incubation, mating systems, and sexual dimorphism in both color and size. We found male birds get less cancer than female birds (9.8% vs. 11.1%, p=0.0058).

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2019-05

The Ethics of Forced Chemotherapy on Minors with Good Prognoses

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Each family approaches a cancer diagnosis differently. While some families pursue traditional treatments to the fullest extent, others attempt to refuse chemotherapy, often in favor of alternative medicines. When the patient is a minor, his or her parents have the

Each family approaches a cancer diagnosis differently. While some families pursue traditional treatments to the fullest extent, others attempt to refuse chemotherapy, often in favor of alternative medicines. When the patient is a minor, his or her parents have the authority to make medical decisions on their behalf, and this authority is constitutionally protected and socially upheld. However, when the decision to forgo chemotherapy does not comply with minimum standard of care and puts the minor's life in danger, legal action can and has been taken to force the minor to undergo chemotherapy. Legal precedent and biomedical ethics principles guide the decision-making process of the physicians and judges involved, although there is no official framework by which to prioritize these principles. Neglect and abuse procedures, as well as capacity determinations, mature minor doctrines, and religious convictions, add complexity to each forced chemotherapy case. These complexities were explored through the context of four case studies: Cassandra Callendar, who was not granted mature minor status and was forced into treatment by the Connecticut Supreme court; Starchild Abraham Cherrix, who was allowed to pursue the alternative Hoxsey therapy with the consent of his parents and the local court; Dennis Lindberg, a 14-year-old Jehovah's Witness who was permitted to refuse blood transfusions under the Mature Minor Doctrine; and Daniel Hauser, a developmentally delayed teen who was forced to undergo therapy against his parents' religious convictions. In the analysis and comprehensive comparison of these cases, it was concluded that an attempt to establish a protocol by which to determine the ethics of forcing chemotherapy, while well-intended, would ultimately be ineffective and extremely complex. Thus, each forced chemotherapy case must be evaluated on an individual basis.

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2018-05

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Trichoplax adhaerens: A Novel Model Organism in Cancer Research

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Trichoplax adhaerens (Placozoa) is the simplest multicellular animal to be described. This organism lacks nervous tissue, muscle tissue and organs, and is composed of only five cell types organized into three layers. Placozoa are gaining popularity as a model organism

Trichoplax adhaerens (Placozoa) is the simplest multicellular animal to be described. This organism lacks nervous tissue, muscle tissue and organs, and is composed of only five cell types organized into three layers. Placozoa are gaining popularity as a model organism due to their simple make-up and completely sequenced genome. The complete sequencing of this organism’s genome has revealed the presence of important genes in cancer such as TP53 and MDM2 genes. Along with the presence of these genes, there are also additional pathways commonly deregulated in cancer that are well conserved in this organism. T. adhaerens are able to survive exposure to 160Gy and even 240Gy of X-ray radiation. Though small dark bodies form within the main body, they tend to extrude those masses, and continue to reproduce afterwards. After exposure to both grades of radiation, there was a greater increase in the apparent population size of the treated population than the control population. There was also a greater decrease in surface area of the organisms exposed to 160Gy than the control organisms. This increase in population and decrease in surface area of the treated organisms could be due to the extruded bodies. We hypothesize that the observed extrusion is a novel cancer defense mechanism for ridding the animal of damaged or mutated cells. This hypothesis should be tested through longitudinal observation and genetic analysis of the extruded bodies.

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2019-12

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How Summer Camps Can Aid Palliative Care for Cancer Patients

Description

The rate of cancer incidence is a morbid figure. Twenty years ago, 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women were predicted to be afflicted by cancer throughout their lifetime (Cancer Facts & Figures- 1998). In 2017, the rate

The rate of cancer incidence is a morbid figure. Twenty years ago, 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women were predicted to be afflicted by cancer throughout their lifetime (Cancer Facts & Figures- 1998). In 2017, the rate remains the same ("Cancer Statistic Center"). Every year, more people are affected by cancer, which is a physiologically, psychologically, emotionally and socially devastating disease. And yet the language and metaphors we use to describe cancer focus our attention on the "fight" of the heroic individual against the brutal disease or on finding a cure. Despite this narrow rhetoric, there are many meaningful, supportive, and palliative measures designed to substantively and holistically care for cancer patients, beyond their medical treatment. Many of these interventions help the patient feel supported (and less alone in this "battle") by building robust communities. In this thesis, I argue the summer camps for children affected by cancer are meaningful interventions that offer palliative care throughout their treatment by creating support networks with peers going through similar medical procedures. Drawing on anecdotal evidence from three cancer camps and a detailed literature review of a subset of palliative interventions designed to promote well-being, this thesis proposes a new model for a summer camp that focuses on emotional processing emotional expression, positive psychology in order to improve palliative care for cancer patients.

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2017-12

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Use of the Multiple Myeloma Immunosignature for the Synthesis of Synbody Therapeutic Treatment

Description

Currently, treatment for multiple myeloma (MM), a hematological cancer, is limited to post-symptomatic chemotherapy combined with other pharmaceuticals and steroids. Even so, the immuno-depressing cancer can continue to proliferate, leading to a median survival period of two to five years.

Currently, treatment for multiple myeloma (MM), a hematological cancer, is limited to post-symptomatic chemotherapy combined with other pharmaceuticals and steroids. Even so, the immuno-depressing cancer can continue to proliferate, leading to a median survival period of two to five years. B cells in the bone marrow are responsible for generating antigen-specific antibodies, but in MM the B cells express mutated, non-specific monoclonal antibodies. Therefore, it is hypothesized that antibody-based assay and therapy may be feasible for detecting and treating the disease. In this project, 330k peptide microarrays were used to ascertain the binding affinity of sera antibodies for MM patients with random sequence peptides; these results were then contrasted with normal donor assays to determine the "immunosignatures" for MM. From this data, high-binding peptides with target-specificity (high fluorescent intensity for one patient, low in all other patients and normal donors) were selected for two MM patients. These peptides were narrowed down to two lists of five (10 total peptides) to analyze in a synthetic antibody study. The rationale behind this originates from the idea that antibodies present specific binding sites on either of their branches, thus relating high binding peptides from the arrays to potential binding targets of the monoclonal antibodies. Furthermore, these peptides may be synthesized on a synthetic antibody scaffold with the potential to induce targeted delivery of radioactive or chemotherapeutic molecular tags to only myelomic B cells. If successful, this would provide a novel alternative to current treatments that is less invasive, has fewer side effects, more specifically targets the cause of MM, and reliably diagnoses the cancer in the presymptomatic stage.

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2016-05

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Aptamer-functionalized Hydrogel for the Capture and Release of CCRF-CEM Leukemia Cancer Cells

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The main objective of this project is to create a hydrogel based material system to capture and release CCRF-CEM Leukemia cancer cells via chemo-mechanical modulation. This system is composed of an aptamer-functionalized hydrogel thin film at the bottom of a

The main objective of this project is to create a hydrogel based material system to capture and release CCRF-CEM Leukemia cancer cells via chemo-mechanical modulation. This system is composed of an aptamer-functionalized hydrogel thin film at the bottom of a microfluidic channel, which changes its film thickness as the temperature of the fluid in the system changes. The functionalized hydrogel film has been created as the primary steps to creating the microfluidic device that could capture and release leukemia cells by turning the temperature of the fluid and length of exposure. Circulating tumor cells have recently become a highly studied area since they have become associated with the likelihood of patient survival. Further, circulating tumor cells can be used to determine changes in the genome of the cancer leading to targeted treatment. First, the aptamers were attached onto the hydrogel through an EDC/NHS reaction. The aptamers were verified to be attached onto the hydrogel through FTIR spectroscopy. The cell capture experiments were completed by exposing the hydrogel to a solution of leukemia cells for 10 minutes at room temperature. The cell release experiments were completed by exposing the hydrogel to a 40°C solution. Several capture and release experiments were completed to measure how many cells could be captured, how quickly, and how many cells captured were released. The aptamers were chemically attached to the hydrogel. 300 cells per square millimeter could be captured at a time in a 10 minute time period and released in a 5 minute period. Of the cells captured, 96% of them were alive once caught. 99% of cells caught were released once exposed to elevated temperature. The project opens the possibility to quickly and efficiently capture and release tumor cells using only changes in temperature. Further, most of the cells that were captured were alive and nearly all of those were released leading to high survival and capture efficiency.

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2016-12

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Needle in a Haystack: the search for immunogenic epitopes for TPD52

Description

Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths of women in the united states. Traditionally, Breast cancer is predominantly treated by a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. However, due to the significant negative side effects associated with

Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths of women in the united states. Traditionally, Breast cancer is predominantly treated by a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. However, due to the significant negative side effects associated with these traditional treatments, there has been substantial efforts to develop alternative therapies to treat cancer. One such alternative therapy is a peptide-based therapeutic cancer vaccine. Therapeutic cancer vaccines enhance an individual's immune response to a specific tumor. They are capable of doing this through artificial activation of tumor specific CTLs (Cytotoxic T Lymphocytes). However, in order to artificially activate tumor specific CTLs, a patient must be treated with immunogenic epitopes derived from their specific cancer type. We have identified that the tumor associated antigen, TPD52, is an ideal target for a therapeutic cancer vaccine. This designation was due to the overexpression of TPD52 in a variety of different cancer types. In order to start the development of a therapeutic cancer vaccine for TPD52-related cancers, we have devised a two-step strategy. First, we plan to create a list of potential TPD52 epitopes by using epitope binding and processing prediction tools. Second, we plan to attempt to experimentally identify MHC class I TPD52 epitopes in vitro. We identified 942 potential 9 and 10 amino acid epitopes for the HLAs A1, A2, A3, A11, A24, B07, B27, B35, B44. These epitopes were predicted by using a combination of 3 binding prediction tools and 2 processing prediction tools. From these 942 potential epitopes, we selected the top 50 epitopes ranked by a combination of binding and processing scores. Due to the promiscuity of some predicted epitopes for multiple HLAs, we ordered 38 synthetic epitopes from the list of the top 50 epitope. We also performed a frequency analysis of the TPD52 protein sequence and identified 3 high volume regions of high epitope production. After the epitope predictions were completed, we proceeded to attempt to experimentally detected presented TPD52 epitopes. First, we successful transduced parental K562 cells with TPD52. After transduction, we started the optimization process for the immunoprecipitation protocol. The optimization of the immunoprecipitation protocol proved to be more difficult than originally believed and was the main reason that we were unable to progress past the transduction of the parental cells. However, we believe that we have identified the issues and will be able to complete the experiment in the coming months.

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2016-05

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Assessing the Evolutionary Divergence Between Four Multiple Myeloma Patient Tumors and Their Established Cell Lines

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Current studies in Multiple Myeloma suggest that patient tumors and cell lines cluster separately based on gene expression profiles. Hyperdiploid patients are also extremely underrepresented in established human myeloma cell lines (HMCLs). This suggests that the average HMCL model system

Current studies in Multiple Myeloma suggest that patient tumors and cell lines cluster separately based on gene expression profiles. Hyperdiploid patients are also extremely underrepresented in established human myeloma cell lines (HMCLs). This suggests that the average HMCL model system does not accurately represent the average myeloma patient. To investigate this question we performed a combined CNA and SNV evolutionary comparison between four myeloma tumors and their established HMCLs (JMW-1, VP-6, KAS-6/1-KAS-6/2 and KP-6). We identified copy number changes shared between the tumors and their cell lines (mean of 74 events - 59%), those unique to patients (mean of 21.25 events - 17%), and those only in the cell lines (mean of 30.75 events \u2014 24%). A relapse sample from the JMW-1 patient showed 58% similarity to the primary diagnostic tumor. These data suggest that, on the level of copy number abnormalities, HMCLs show equal levels of evolutionary divergence as that observed within patients. By exome sequencing, patient tumors were 71% similar to their representative HMCLs, with ~12.5% and ~16.5% of SNVs unique to the tumors and HMCLs respectively. The HMCLs studied appear highly representative of the patient from which they were derived, with most differences associated with an enrichment of sub-populations present in the primary tumor. Additionally, our analysis of the KP-6 aCGH data showed that the patient's hyperdiploid karyotype was maintained in its respective HMCL. This discovery confirms the establishment and validation of a novel and potentially clinically relevant hyperdiploid HMCL that could provide a major advance in our ability to understand the pathogenesis and progression of this prominent patient population.

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2016-05

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A Multivariate Analysis of Life History Traits Across Species and Their Statistical Power to Predict Cancer Prevalence

Description

Cancer rates vary between people, between cultures, and between tissue types, driven by clinically relevant distinctions in the risk factors that lead to different cancer types. Despite the importance of cancer location in human health, little is known about tissue-specific

Cancer rates vary between people, between cultures, and between tissue types, driven by clinically relevant distinctions in the risk factors that lead to different cancer types. Despite the importance of cancer location in human health, little is known about tissue-specific cancers in non-human animals. We can gain significant insight into how evolutionary history has shaped mechanisms of cancer suppression by examining how life history traits impact cancer susceptibility across species. Here, we perform multi-level analysis to test how species-level life history strategies are associated with differences in neoplasia prevalence, and apply this to mammary neoplasia within mammals. We propose that the same patterns of cancer prevalence that have been reported across species will be maintained at the tissue-specific level. We used a combination of factor analysis and phylogenetic regression on 13 life history traits across 90 mammalian species to determine the correlation between a life history trait and how it relates to mammary neoplasia prevalence. The factor analysis presented ways to calculate quantifiable underlying factors that contribute to covariance of entangled life history variables. A greater risk of mammary neoplasia was found to be correlated most significantly with shorter gestation length. With this analysis, a framework is provided for how different life history modalities can influence cancer vulnerability. Additionally, statistical methods developed for this project present a framework for future comparative oncology studies and have the potential for many diverse applications.

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2021-05

You Have the Power to Prevent Cancer

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With cancer rates increasing and affecting more people every year, I felt it was important to educate the younger generation about the potential factors that could put them at risk of receiving a cancer diagnosis later in life. I thought

With cancer rates increasing and affecting more people every year, I felt it was important to educate the younger generation about the potential factors that could put them at risk of receiving a cancer diagnosis later in life. I thought that this was important to do because most students, especially in rural communities, are not taught the factors that increase your risk of getting cancer in the future. This leads to students not having the tools to think about the repercussions that their actions can have in their distant future in regard to their risk of getting cancer. I went to six schools throughout the valley and the White Mountains of Arizona with differing education levels and demographics to provide them with prevention strategies that they could implement into their daily lives to reduce their risk of getting cancer in the future. Some of the schools had curriculums that included cancer and some of the factors that increase your risk, while others never mention what is happening biologically when a person has cancer. I introduced factors such as no smoking or tobacco use, diet, exercise, sunscreen use, avoiding alcohol, and getting screened regularly. While at each school, I discussed the importance of creating these healthy habits while they are young because cancer is a disease that comes from the accumulation of mutations that can begin occurring in their bodies even now. After my presentation, 98.6% of the 305 students who viewed my presentation felt like they had learned something from the presentation and were almost all willing to implement at least one of the changes into their daily lives.

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2020-05