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- Creators: Barrett, The Honors College
A coincidence reporter construct, consisting of the p21-promoter and two luciferase genes (Firefly and Renilla), was constructed for the screening of drugs that might inhibit Olig2's tumorigenic role in glioblastoma. The reporter construct was tested using an Olig2 inhibitor, HSP990, as well as short hairpin RNA targeting Olig2. Further confirmatory analysis is needed before the reporter cell line is ready for high-throughput screening at the NIH and lead compound selection.
Introduction: Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is seen in up to 90% of cases of cervical cancer, the third leading cancer cause of death in women. Current HPV screening focuses on only two HPV types and covers roughly 75% of HPV-associated cervical cancers. A protein based assay to test for antibody biomarkers against 98 HPV antigens from both high and low risk types could provide an inexpensive and reliable method to screen for patients at risk of developing invasive cervical cancer. Methods: 98 codon optimized, commercially produced HPV genes were cloned into the pANT7_cGST vector, amplified in a bacterial host, and purified for mammalian expression using in vitro transcription/translation (IVTT) in a luminescence-based RAPID ELISA (RELISA) assay. Monoclonal antibodies were used to determine immune cross-reactivity between phylogenetically similar antigens. Lastly, several protein characteristics were examined to determine if they correlated with protein expression. Results: All genes were successfully moved into the destination vector and 86 of the 98 genes (88%) expressed protein at an adequate level. A difference was noted in expression by gene across HPV types but no correlation was found between protein size, pI, or aliphatic index and expression. Discussion: Further testing is needed to express the remaining 12 HPV genes. Once all genes have been successfully expressed and purified at high concentrations, DNA will be printed on microscope slides to create a protein microarray. This microarray will be used to screen HPV-positive patient sera for antibody biomarkers that may be indicative of cervical cancer and precancerous cervical neoplasias.
Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the leading cause of cancer-related mortality in the USA and throughout the world. Two phenotypes that promote this deadly outcome are the invasive potential of NSCLC and the emergence of therapeutic resistance in this disease. There is an unmet clinical need to understand the mechanisms that govern NSCLC cell invasion and therapeutic resistance, and to target these phenotypes towards abating the dismal five-year survival of NSCLC. The expression of the tumor necrosis factor receptor superfamily, member 12A (TNFRSF12A; Fn14) correlates with poor patient survival and invasiveness in many tumor types including NSCLC. We hypothesize that suppression of Fn14 will inhibit NSCLC cell motility and reduce cell viability. Here we demonstrate that atorvastatin calcium treatment reduces Fn14 expression in NSCLC cell lines. Prior to Fn14 protein suppression, atorvastatin calcium modulated the expression of the Fn14 modulators P-ERK1/2 and P-NF-κβ. Atorvastatin calcium treatment inhibited the migratory capacity in H1975, H2030 and H1993 cells by at least 55%. When chemotactic migration in H2030 cells was induced by the Fn14 ligand TNF-like weak inducer of apoptosis (TWEAK) treatment, atorvastatin calcium successfully negated any stimulatory effects. Inversely, treatment of NSCLC cells with cholesterol resulted in a statistically significant increase in migration. Depletion of Fn14 expression via siRNA suppressed the migratory effect of cholesterol. Finally, atorvastatin calcium treatment sensitized cells to radiation treatment, reducing cell survival. These data suggest that atorvastatin calcium may inhibit NSCLC invasiveness through a mechanism involving Fn14, and may be a novel therapeutic target in NSCLC tumors expressing Fn14.
The purpose of this project was to examine the viability of protein biomarkers in pre-symptomatic detection of lung cancer. Regular screening has been shown to vastly improve patient survival outcome. Lung cancer currently has the highest occurrence and mortality of all cancers and so a means of screening would be highly beneficial. In this research, the biomarker neuron-specific enolase (Enolase-2, eno2), a marker of small-cell lung cancer, was detected at varying concentrations using electrochemical impedance spectroscopy in order to develop a mathematical model of predicting protein expression based on a measured impedance value at a determined optimum frequency. The extent of protein expression would indicate the possibility of the patient having small-cell lung cancer. The optimum frequency was found to be 459 Hz, and the mathematical model to determine eno2 concentration based on impedance was found to be y = 40.246x + 719.5 with an R2 value of 0.82237. These results suggest that this approach could provide an option for the development of small-cell lung cancer screening utilizing electrochemical technology.
Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM) is an aggressive and deadly form of brain cancer with a median survival time of about a year with treatment. Due to the aggressive nature of these tumors and the tendency of gliomas to follow white matter tracks in the brain, each tumor mass has a unique growth pattern. Consequently it is difficult for neurosurgeons to anticipate where the tumor will spread in the brain, making treatment planning difficult. Archival patient data including MRI scans depicting the progress of tumors have been helpful in developing a model to predict Glioblastoma proliferation, but limited scans per patient make the tumor growth rate difficult to determine. Furthermore, patient treatment between scan points can significantly compound the challenge of accurately predicting the tumor growth. A partnership with Barrow Neurological Institute has allowed murine studies to be conducted in order to closely observe tumor growth and potentially improve the current model to more closely resemble intermittent stages of GBM growth without treatment effects.
Due to artificial selection, dogs have high levels of phenotypic diversity, yet, there appears to be low genetic diversity within individual breeds. Through their domestication from wolves, dogs have gone through a series of population bottlenecks, which has resulted in a reduction in genetic diversity, with a large amount of linkage disequilibrium and the persistence of deleterious mutations. This has led to an increased susceptibility to a multitude of diseases, including cancer. To study the effects of artificial selection and life history characteristics on the risk of cancer mortality, we collected cancer mortality data from four studies as well as the percent of heterozygosity, body size, lifespan and breed group for 201 dog breeds. We also collected specific types of cancer breeds were susceptible to and compared the dog cancer mortality patterns to the patterns observed in other mammals. We found a relationship between cancer mortality rate and heterozygosity, body size, lifespan as well as breed group. Higher levels of heterozygosity were also associated with longer lifespan. These results indicate larger breeds, such as Irish Water Spaniels, Flat-coated Retrievers and Bernese Mountain Dogs, are more susceptible to cancer, with lower heterozygosity and lifespan. These breeds are also more susceptible to sarcomas, as opposed to carcinomas in smaller breeds, such as Miniature Pinschers, Chihuahuas, and Pekingese. Other mammals show that larger and long-lived animals have decreased cancer mortality, however, within dog breeds, the opposite relationship is observed. These relationships could be due to the trade-off between cellular maintenance and growing fast and large, with higher expression of growth factors, such as IGF-1. This study further demonstrates the relationships between cancer mortality, heterozygosity, and life history traits and exhibits dogs as an important model organism for understanding the relationship between genetics and health.
In a dormant state, cancer cells survive chemotherapy leaving the opportunity for cancer cell relapse and metastasis ultimately leading to patient death. A novel aminoglycoside-based hydrogel ‘Amikagel’ developed in Dr. Rege’s lab serves as a platform for a 3D tumor microenvironment (3DTM) mimicking cancer cell dormancy and relapse. Six Amikagels of varying mechanical stiffness and adhesivities were synthesized and evaluated as platforms for 3DTM formation through cell viability and cell cycle arrest analyses. The impact of fetal bovine serum concentration and bovine serum albumin concentration in the media were studied for their impact on 3DTM formation. These experiments allow us to identify the best possible Amikagel formulation for 3DTM.
After researching pediatric cancer experiences, an opportunity emerged creating a less intimidating environment for children undergoing chemotherapy. By means of adding a creative component to their IV pole and disguising machinery, children will be a part of an Imagination Voyage adventure. Creative themes allow for a journey on a pirate ship, or being in a fantasy castle by captivating children in playtime. The design allows for a frightening experience to become a positive one.
Cancer remains one of the leading killers throughout the world. Death and disability due to lung cancer in particular accounts for one of the largest global economic burdens a disease presents. The burden on third-world countries is especially large due to the unusually large financial stress that comes from late tumor detection and expensive treatment options. Early detection using inexpensive techniques may relieve much of the burden throughout the world, not just in more developed countries. I examined the immune responses of lung cancer patients using immunosignatures – patterns of reactivity between host serum antibodies and random peptides. Immunosignatures reveal disease-specific patterns that are very reproducible. Immunosignaturing is a chip-based method that has the ability to display the antibody diversity from individual sera sample with low cost. Immunosignaturing is a medical diagnostic test that has many applications in current medical research and in diagnosis. From a previous clinical study, patients diagnosed for lung cancer were tested for their immunosignature vs. healthy non-cancer volunteers. The pattern of reactivity against the random peptides (the ‘immunosignature’) revealed common signals in cancer patients, absent from healthy controls. My study involved the search for common amino acid motifs in the cancer-specific peptides. My search through the hundreds of ‘hits’ revealed certain motifs that were repeated more times than expected by random chance. The amino acids that were the most conserved in each set include tryptophan, aspartic acid, glutamic acid, proline, alanine, serine, and lysine. The most overall conserved amino acid observed between each set was D - aspartic acid. The motifs were short (no more than 5-6 amino acids in a row), but the total number of motifs I identified was large enough to assure significance. I utilized Excel to organize the large peptide sequence libraries, then CLUSTALW to cluster similar-sequence peptides, then GLAM2 to find common themes in groups of peptides. In so doing, I found sequences that were also present in translated cancer expression libraries (RNA) that matched my motifs, suggesting that immunosignatures can find cancer-specific antigens that can be both diagnostic and potentially therapeutic.
Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is a malignant, aggressive and infiltrative cancer of the central nervous system with a median survival of 14.6 months with standard care. Diagnosis of GBM is made using medical imaging such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT). Treatment is informed by medical images and includes chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgical removal if the tumor is surgically accessible. Treatment seldom results in a significant increase in longevity, partly due to the lack of precise information regarding tumor size and location. This lack of information arises from the physical limitations of MR and CT imaging coupled with the diffusive nature of glioblastoma tumors. GBM tumor cells can migrate far beyond the visible boundaries of the tumor and will result in a recurring tumor if not killed or removed. Since medical images are the only readily available information about the tumor, we aim to improve mathematical models of tumor growth to better estimate the missing information. Particularly, we investigate the effect of random variation in tumor cell behavior (anisotropy) using stochastic parameterizations of an established proliferation-diffusion model of tumor growth. To evaluate the performance of our mathematical model, we use MR images from an animal model consisting of Murine GL261 tumors implanted in immunocompetent mice, which provides consistency in tumor initiation and location, immune response, genetic variation, and treatment. Compared to non-stochastic simulations, stochastic simulations showed improved volume accuracy when proliferation variability was high, but diffusion variability was found to only marginally affect tumor volume estimates. Neither proliferation nor diffusion variability significantly affected the spatial distribution accuracy of the simulations. While certain cases of stochastic parameterizations improved volume accuracy, they failed to significantly improve simulation accuracy overall. Both the non-stochastic and stochastic simulations failed to achieve over 75% spatial distribution accuracy, suggesting that the underlying structure of the model fails to capture one or more biological processes that affect tumor growth. Two biological features that are candidates for further investigation are angiogenesis and anisotropy resulting from differences between white and gray matter. Time-dependent proliferation and diffusion terms could be introduced to model angiogenesis, and diffusion weighed imaging (DTI) could be used to differentiate between white and gray matter, which might allow for improved estimates brain anisotropy.