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The Effects of Human Hairless Gene Overexpression on U87 MG Glioblastoma Cell Function

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Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is an aggressive malignant brain tumor with a median prognosis of 14 months. Human hairless protein (HR) is a 130 kDa nuclear transcription factor that plays a critical role in skin and hair function but was found

Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is an aggressive malignant brain tumor with a median prognosis of 14 months. Human hairless protein (HR) is a 130 kDa nuclear transcription factor that plays a critical role in skin and hair function but was found to be highly expressed in neural tissue as well. The expression of HR in GBM tumor cells is significantly decreased compared to the normal brain tissue and low levels of HR expression is associated with shortened patient survival. We have recently reported that HR is a DNA binding phosphoprotein, which binds to p53 protein and p53 responsive element (p53RE) in vitro and in intact cells. We hypothesized that HR can regulate p53 downstream target genes, and consequently affects cellular function and activity. To test the hypothesis, we overexpressed HR in normal human embryonic kidney HEK293 and GBM U87MG cell lines and characterized these cells by analyzing p53 target gene expression, viability, cell-cycle arrest, and apoptosis. The results revealed that the overexpressed HR not only regulates p53-mediated target gene expression, but also significantly inhibit cell viability, induced early apoptosis, and G2/M cell cycle arrest in U87MG cells, compared to mock groups. Translating the knowledge gained from this research on the connections between HR and GBM could aid in identifying novel therapies to circumvent GBM progression or improve clinical outcome.

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2018-05

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Volume Distributions of Metastatic Brain Tumors

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Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data of metastatic brain cancer patients at the Barrow Neurological Institute sparked interest in the radiology department due to the possibility that tumor size distributions might mimic a power law or an exponential distribution. In order

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data of metastatic brain cancer patients at the Barrow Neurological Institute sparked interest in the radiology department due to the possibility that tumor size distributions might mimic a power law or an exponential distribution. In order to consider the question regarding the growth trends of metastatic brain tumors, this thesis analyzes the volume measurements of the tumor sizes from the BNI data and attempts to explain such size distributions through mathematical models. More specifically, a basic stochastic cellular automaton model is used and has three-dimensional results that show similar size distributions of those of the BNI data. Results of the models are investigated using the likelihood ratio test suggesting that, when the tumor volumes are measured based on assuming tumor sphericity, the tumor size distributions significantly mimic the power law over an exponential distribution.

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2018-12

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Incorporating Nutritional Support as Complementary Therapy for Cancer Patients Undergoing Chemotherapy Treatment

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Nutritional support offered before and during chemotherapy treatment is proven to improve the outcomes of treatment (Bernhardson, 2016). This project seeks to examine current forms of nutritional support offered to patients, as well as the models of care and support

Nutritional support offered before and during chemotherapy treatment is proven to improve the outcomes of treatment (Bernhardson, 2016). This project seeks to examine current forms of nutritional support offered to patients, as well as the models of care and support teams in cancer treatment centers. The basis for this project incorporated personal experiences at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Gilbert, Arizona as well as research into the work of clinical oncology dietitians. An intense interest in food videos and blogs also informed this project, and was incorporated in the hope of providing chemotherapy patients a platform to discover recipes specific to their unique situation. The combination of this research was utilized to create several videos which demonstrated specific recipes beneficial for patients as well as creating a platform for this particular population. While nutritional support can take multiple forms, the focus of nutritional support surrounds symptom management. The common side effects of chemotherapy such as nausea, mucositis (mouth sores), and extreme weight loss were taken into account. Recipes were formulated to directly address these conditions and each recipe was broken down into the benefits of both macronutrients and micronutrients. In addition to formulating specific recipes and videos, barriers to proper nutritional support were examined and explained. These barriers include understaffing of clinical dietitians at cancer treatment centers, a patient's lack of transportation to and from treatments, as well as an overwhelming viewpoint that nutritional support is only required for extreme cases of malnutrition. Combatting these barriers and offering more forms of nutritional support will help to increase a patient's positive response to treatment, manage their symptoms, and improve their overall quality of life.

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2018-12

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Monitoring the Molecular Quality of Biopsy Tissue Samples Using Volatile Organic Compounds

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A major challenge with tissue samples used for biopsies is the inability to monitor their molecular quality before diagnostic testing. When tissue is resected from a patient, the cells are removed from their blood supply and normal temperature-controlled environment, which

A major challenge with tissue samples used for biopsies is the inability to monitor their molecular quality before diagnostic testing. When tissue is resected from a patient, the cells are removed from their blood supply and normal temperature-controlled environment, which causes significant biological stress. As a result, the molecular composition and integrity undergo significant change. Currently, there is no method to track the effects of these artefactual stresses on the sample tissue to determine any deviations from the actual patient physiology. Without a way to track these changes, pathologists have to blindly trust that the tissue samples they are given are of high quality and fit for molecular analysis; physicians use the analysis to make diagnoses and treatment plans based on the assumption that the samples are valid. A possible way to track the quality of the tissue is by measuring volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released from the samples. VOCs are carbon-based chemicals with high vapor pressure at room temperature. There are over 1,800 known VOCs within humans and a number of these exist in every tissue sample. They are individualized and often indicative of a person’s metabolic condition. For this reason, VOCs are often used for diagnostic purposes. Their usefulness in diagnostics, reflectiveness of a person’s metabolic state, and accessibility lends them to being beneficial for tracking degradation. We hypothesize that there is a relationship between the change in concentration of the volatile organic compounds of a sample, and the molecular quality of a sample. This relationship is what would indicate the accuracy of the tissue quality used for a biopsy in relation to the tissue within the body.

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2020-05

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Advanced biomaterials and microengineering technologies to recapitulate the stepwise process of cancer metastasis

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Cancer is one of the leading causes of death globally according to the World Health Organization. Although improved treatments and early diagnoses have reduced cancer related mortalities, metastatic disease remains a major clinical challenge. The local tumor microenvironment plays a

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death globally according to the World Health Organization. Although improved treatments and early diagnoses have reduced cancer related mortalities, metastatic disease remains a major clinical challenge. The local tumor microenvironment plays a significant role in cancer metastasis, where tumor cells respond and adapt to a plethora of biochemical and biophysical signals from stromal cells and extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins. Due to these complexities, there is a critical need to understand molecular mechanisms underlying cancer metastasis to facilitate the discovery of more effective therapies. In the past few years, the integration of advanced biomaterials and microengineering approaches has initiated the development of innovative platform technologies for cancer research. These technologies enable the creation of biomimetic in vitro models with physiologically relevant (i.e. in vivo-like) characteristics to conduct studies ranging from fundamental cancer biology to high-throughput drug screening. In this review article, we discuss the biological significance of each step of the metastatic cascade and provide a broad overview on recent progress to recapitulate these stages using advanced biomaterials and microengineered technologies. In each section, we will highlight the advantages and shortcomings of each approach and provide our perspectives on future directions.

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2017-05

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Stochastic parameterization of the proliferation-diffusion model of brain cancer in a Murine model

Description

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

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.

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2016-05

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Development of a Blood Brain Barrier Permeability Database for Investigational Anti-Cancer Agents for Use in Glioblastoma Research

Description

Glioblastoma (GBM) is an extremely malignant form of brain cancer characterized by rapid progression and poor patient survival. Even after standard of care treatments, less than ten percent of patients with this disease survive five years. More effective therapeutic options

Glioblastoma (GBM) is an extremely malignant form of brain cancer characterized by rapid progression and poor patient survival. Even after standard of care treatments, less than ten percent of patients with this disease survive five years. More effective therapeutic options are urgently needed to improve outcomes for patients with GBM. Adequate drug delivery is a critical challenge in GBM treatment, as drugs delivered systemically must be able to penetrate the blood brain barrier (BBB) and reach the tumor at therapeutic levels. To address this, we developed a resource to catalog BBB penetration information for investigational agents currently in clinical trials in cancer. Using an in silico prediction model and manual annotation to capture existing knowledge from the published literature, BBB content for ~500 investigational drugs was added to the investigational database tool. In addition to BBB content, the database also includes information on the gene targets of the included therapies. The investigational database tool was used to identify investigational agents that (1) may have increased activity against GBM based on the presence of a specific mutation in the tumor sample and (2) have evidence suggesting the compounds may penetrate the BBB. By prioritizing investigational agents for further study based on evidence for BBB penetration, this resource can help the GBM research community pursue more effective treatments for GBM.

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2016-05

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DIRECTED ENZYME PRODRUG THERAPY: THE SYNTHESIS OF A Β-GLUCURONIDE LINKER AND ITS COUPLING WITH Z-IODOCOMBSTATIN

Description

The purpose of this project is to explore the benefit of using prodrugs in chemotherapy, as well as to explain the concept of angiogenesis and the importance of this process to tumor development. Angiogenesis is the formation of new

The purpose of this project is to explore the benefit of using prodrugs in chemotherapy, as well as to explain the concept of angiogenesis and the importance of this process to tumor development. Angiogenesis is the formation of new blood capillaries that are necessary for the survival of a tumor, as a tumor cannot grow larger than 1-2 mm3 without developing its own blood supply. Vascular disrupting agents, such as iodocombstatin, a derivative of combretastatin, can be used to effectively cut off the blood supply to a growing neoplasm, effectively inhibiting the supply of oxygen and nutrients needed for cell division Thus, VDAs have a very important implication in terms of the future of chemotherapy. A prodrug, defined as an agent that is inactive in the body until metabolized to yield the drug itself, was synthesized by combining iodocombstatin with a β-glucuronide linker. The prodrug is theoretically hydrolyzed in the body to afford the active drug by β-glucuronidase, an enzyme that is produced five times as much by cancer cells as by normal cells. This effectively creates a “magic-bullet” form of chemotherapy, known as Direct Enzyme Prodrug Therapy (DEPT).

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2015-05

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Estimating GL-261 cell growth: A murine model for Glioblastoma Multiforme

Description

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

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.

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2014-05

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Pre-Symptomatic Detection of Lung Cancer Via Protein Biomarkers

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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

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.

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2014-05