Chipping away at cancer
UNT biology and chemistry researchers have made breakthrough discoveries to advance the detection and treatment of cancer.
Biologist Ron Mittler and researchers from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem mutated a protein found in breast cancer cells, discovering that the new protein nearly stops tumors from developing further.
Then, the team discovered that the diabetes drug, Pioglitazone, can mimic this same mutation, recreating what they have done in the lab.
“We can take women who have this cancer and try to treat them with the drug that is already on the market,” says Mittler, a professor and researcher in UNT’s BioDiscovery Institute.
Chemist Francis D’Souza, a Distinguished Research Professor, and researchers at the Polish Academy of Sciences are creating a chemical sensor device that could detect cancer in its early stages, giving patients their best opportunity for recovery.
D’Souza developed a chemosensor, a thin film of a polymer that detects molecules of neopterin, a chemical compound found in human body fluids. Neopterin is produced by the immune system and an increased presence in the body is often a sign of a medical problem.
“This new approach involves developing special recognizing materials prepared by molecu‑ lar imprinting technology,” D’Souza says. “It involves creating 3-D cavities within the polymer for selective binding and subsequent detection of the target cancer biomarker.”
The polymer film is in the testing stage in Poland. So far, researchers say that it only recognizes the biomarker neopterin, meaning only a minimal risk of a false positive test. Researchers hope the medical community can use the technology in a few years.