Pharmacology and Toxicology
BS, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
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Faculty Advisor: Dr. Haris Vikis
Our research interests are to understand the role of neutrophils in inflammation and lung tumor promotion. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer related deaths in the US and is associated with a five year survival rate of 15%. We model this in the lab using BALB/cByJ strain mice that are susceptible to methylcholanthrene (MCA)-initiated butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)-promoted lung carcinogenesis. These mice when treated with a carcinogen (MCA) followed with a pro-inflammatory agent (BHT) develop a higher number of lung tumors versus those treated with a carcinogen only. Our lab is evaluating the role of neutrophils, neutrophil chemokines and their cognate receptors in the tumorigenesis process. Our data has shown that neutrophils are required for MCA/BHT tumorigenesis and that high levels of the chemokine Kc/Cxcl1 may be responsible for trafficking neutrophils in to the lung and promoting higher tumor load in certain strains of mice. By using various inhibitors and knockout mouse models, we will test whether blocking chemotactic signaling to neutrophils reduces tumorigenesis. Additionally, we are also evaluating the role of dietary chemopreventative agents that may inhibit these and other inflammatory processes. Research into the role of the inflammatory process in lung cancer formation, in addition to the anti-inflammatory role of chemopreventative agents, may yield better treatment strategies in the future.