Pancreatic cancer (PANC) is one of the deadliest cancers with its metastasis being the primary cause of death. It has been recognized that pancreatic cancer stem cells (CSCs) are primarily responsible for metastasis initiation and expansion to secondary sites. Recent research indicates that C-X-C chemokine receptor type 4 (CXCR4) plays a central role in cancer progression and metastasis. Overexpression of CXCR4 is a major cause of the direction of PANC metastasis to specific organs that overexpress the CXCR4 ligand, stromal-derived-factor-1α (SDF-1α). CXCR4 is overexpressed and the CXCR4/SDF-1α axis is activated in pancreatic CSCs. Therefore, effective regimens against PANC progression and metastasis should directly inhibit pancreatic CSCs and inactivate the CXCR4/SDF-1α signaling axis. There are preliminary studies that show that the bioactive compound tanshinone I (T1) has had potent activity against pancreatic CSCs and with down-regulating SDF-1α expression. We also found that the bioactive compound ampelopsin (AMP) inhibited metastasis and down-regulated CXCR4 expression. Moreover, T1 and AMP showed minimal adverse effects. Therefore, our hypothesis is that the T1 and AMP combination can have a synergistic effect on inhibiting growth and metastasis of PANC by inactivating cooperatively the CXCR4/SDF-1α axis. In this study, we will first apply the in vitro system to determine the effect of T1 and AMP, alone and in combinations, on the growth and invasion of PANC cells, and expression levels of CXCR4 and SDF-1α. We will then determine the effect of T1 and AMP combinations on self-renewal of pancreatic CSCs and expression levels of CXCR4 and SDF-1α.
CaNCURE provides trainees with a 6-month hands-on research experience and one-on-one mentoring by leading researchers in cancer nanomedicine. Projects performed by current and past participants include:
While on co-op, trainees document their research in an e-portfolio. This gives trainees the opportunity to provide regular updates on their research progress, reflect on training they are receiving, and explain how their research fits within the field of cancer nanomedicine. These research e-portfolios can be accessed through individual trainee profiles. The complete collection may be found here.
Presentation at CaNCURE Nanomedicine Day
At the completion of their co-op, trainees are provided with the opportunity to present their research to a wider audience. In our 1st annual CaNCURE Nanomedicine Day, trainees prepared interactive, digital posters to display on electronic poster boards. Over 100 faculty, students, and researchers attended our first event!
Check out the news article and congrats to all the poster winners!
Jordan Harris: Most Innovative Cancer Research Award
Jeremy Thong: Best Undergraduate Research Poster Award
Craig Pille: Most Promising Translational Research Award
Bryan Kynnap: Most Promising Basic Science Award
Jordan Harris: Top Chemical Engineering Poster Award