A family of molecules known as the Wave Complex interact within our cells. Which molecular family members are present at any given time in the life of a cell determines how that cell will behave: how it gets nutrition, whether and how it moves, whether it remains stationery.
This complex appears to play a major role in the invasive types of breast cancer, says Leszek Kotula, PhD, associate professor of urology and biochemistry and molecular biology. Working on the theory that the Wave Complex could be a target for therapy are Kotula and two colleagues, Steve Landas, MD, professor of pathology and urology, and Mira Krendel, PhD, assistant professor of cell and developmental biology.
When they increase some specific molecules in the complex, the cancer spreads, Kotula says. He adds that by decreasing certain molecules, “we may actually stop metastasis, or greatly affect it.”
The next step will be to test the effects of existing cancer drugs on these molecules. Landas, a diagnostic pathologist for 35 years, sees the potential. “Wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing if we find ourselves in a situation where we can look at certain members of this family of molecules and know with a high degree of certainty which drugs will work and which will not?”
Microbiologist Gary Chan, PhD discusses his research into the effects of human cytomegalovirus infection, also known as HCMV – a herpes virus, on monocyte cell survival. Chan is assistant professor of microbiology and immunology at Upstate Medical University, and recently received a $402,500 grant from National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for the project.
The protein, paxillin plays an important role in cell movement. What scientists are trying to determine is exactly how paxillin affects the movement of cancer cells away from a primary tumor, into the blood stream and on to colonize distant organs. It’s important to know because “If we can develop ways in which we can limit paxillin’s function, we may be able to block the process of metastasis,” says Christopher Turner, PhD, professor of cell and developmental biology.
Many of the drugs used to fight breast cancer tumors target microtubules, the proteins that makes up the cytoskeleton that helps cells maintain their shape and internal organization. These drugs create toxic side effects for patients.
“We found that the level of expression of paxillin in tumor cells may actually influence the microtubule cytoskeleton and, therefore, may influence how those drugs actually work in individual patients,” Turner says.
Nicholas Deakin, PhD, research assistant professor of cell and developmental biology, points out that the deaths of 95 percent of the 40,000 American women who die from breast cancer each year are linked to metastasis. “It’s not the tumor in the breast that really is the problem. It’s the ability of the cells to move away from there,” he explains. “If we can detect the tumors early, and if we can then treat them with a drug or know what drug to go with to stop their spread, then that’s going to greatly influence the survival of these patients.”
Turner and Deakin are among dozens of researchers who have received grants from the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund of CNY since 2002.
Christopher Turner, PhD and Nicholas Deakin, PhD: Impact of Paxillin Expression on breast cancer drug efficacy[ 0.01 MB ]Play Now | Download
Neuropathologist Robert Corona, DO, helps us understand a new study from the National Institutes for Health (NIH), and what the new three-dimensional tissue model could mean for scientists studying the human brain. Corona is professor and chair of the Pathology, and vice president for Innovation and Business Development at Upstate Medical University. Read the story: Bioengineers create functional 3D brain-like tissue
Robert J Corona Jr, DO,MBA,FCAP,FASCP: Advances in brain science[ 0.01 MB ]Play Now | Download
Targeted radiation therapy can be effective in reducing the size of a tumor, but it can leave bones more susceptible to fractures in the years after cancer.
Studying stem cells for possible solutions are Megan Oest, PhD, assistant professor of orthopedic surgery, and Timothy Damron, MD, professor of orthopedic surgery, cell and developmental biology and neuroscience and physiology. Stem cells have the ability to develop into many different cell types, depending on the body’s needs.
Of the bone cells that are alive at the time of radiation, Oest and Damron have noticed that some die and are never replenished. They are experimenting with chemical or biological methods to prevent damage to these particular cells. Perhaps in the future, patients could receive an injection of a protective substance before undergoing radiotherapy.
It’s also possible, Oest theorizes, that patients could undergo something like a stem cell transplant after their therapy. Healthy cells could come from a donor, or from elsewhere in the patient’s body. She and Damron have learned that when radiation is applied to one leg, cells from the opposite leg remain undamaged. “In theory, if it worked, you could actually take cells from the healthy side of the patient and put them into the unhealthy side,” she says.
Oest and Damron are among dozens of researchers who have received grants from the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund of CNYsince 2002.
Megan Oest, PhD: Radiotherapy-associated bone damage[ 0.01 MB ]Play Now | Download
Robert Corona, DO, explains how the new Upstate MIND center will help transform innovative ideas in the medical field into useful, tangible ways to improve the human condition and the delivery of health care. In addition to leading the center, Corona is professor and chair of pathology at Upstate Medical University.
Robert Corona, DO: How to move a new medical idea forward[ 0.01 MB ]Play Now | Download
Estrogen is crucial to human life for men and women, but once a woman enters menopause, excess estrogen can lead to breast cancer. Up to 80 percent of the breast cancers detected in women after menopause are triggered and proliferated by estrogen, explains Debashis Ghosh, PhD.
Ghosh, a professor of pharmacology, collaborates with Juntao Luo, PhD, assistant professor of pharmacology, about ways to deliver new inhibitors of aromatase, the molecule that makes estrogen, to the tumor sites in animal breast cancer models. Having elucidated the molecular mechanism of how aromatase works, the Ghosh group has designed novel aromatase inhibitors, which are being tested in his lab.
“Some of our compounds have performed better, much better in breast cancer cells than the current drug, which is known as Aromasin or exemestane,” says Ghosh. The next step would be testing the compounds in laboratory animals.
Ghosh is one of dozens of Upstate researchers who have received grants from the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund of CNY since 2002.
Debashis Ghosh, MSc, PhD: The promise of aromatase inhibitors in treatment of breast cancer[ 0.01 MB ]Play Now | Download
Researcher and psychiatrist Stephen Faraone, PhD, helps us understand Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), one of the most common childhood disorders that can continue through adolescence and adulthood. Faraone is an international expert in ADHD research, and distinguished professor of Psychiatry and of Neuroscience & Physiology at Upstate Medical University.
Stephen Faraone, PhD: Understanding attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)[ 0.01 MB ]Play Now | Download
Geriatrician Sharon Brangman, MD, is joined by researcher Alexander Travis, PhD, to talk about their collaborative work on a new research project that hopes to improve the diagnosis of neural diseases and neurotoxins, including stroke, Alzheimer’s Disease, and traumatic brain injury. In addition to Upstate, the following campuses are participating in the project: University at Buffalo, College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, Cornell University and SUNY Cortland. Brangman is professor of Medicine and division chief of Geriatrics at Upstate, and director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Assistance Center (ADAC). Travis is associate professor of Reproductive Biology at the Baker Institute for Animal Health at Cornell University.
Sharon Brangman, MD and Alexander Travis, PhD: Biosensors for detecting neural diseases[ 0.01 MB ]Play Now | Download
Upstate geriatrician Sharon Brangman, MD, serves as the principal investigator for a new project that will establish the State of New York (SUNY) Network Aging Partnership (SNAP) to coordinate collaborative research across SUNY’s four medical universities to facilitate competition for scientific funding, accelerate publication of research projects, and recruit and mentor trainees. The partnership will investigate frailty, and ways to enhance lifespan across the health spectrum. In addition to Upstate, project participants include the University at Buffalo, Downstate Medical Center and Stony Brook University. Read the story: Upstate Medical University among nine SUNY campuses to share $900,000 funding
Sharon Brangman, MD: Creating a partnership for research on issues related to aging[ 0.01 MB ]Play Now | Download