Queen's cancer researchers recognized by American Association of Cancer Research
Jamaica Cass and Mulu Geletu will receive Minority Scholar Awards at the 2011 American Association of Cancer Research conference (AACR), the largest cancer conference in the world.
Ms Cass, a PhD candidate, will present a poster at the conference on tissue microarrays—multiple tissue samples that are mounted together on the same microscope slide for examination. By examining the different samples for particular protein biomarkers and by considering diagnostic techniques and patient outcome, Ms Cass hopes to find better ways to classify cancers or predict how a person will respond to treatment.
“Some people don’t respond to treatment and we don’t know why. By identifying and determining the role of certain proteins, we may be able to make better breast cancer treatment choices,” explains Ms Cass, a Mohawk from the Bay of Quinte.
Ms Cass has also been working with a computer system that can analyze 50 tissue sample slides at a time with the same accuracy as a person. Currently, pathologists require up to half a day to examine one tissue microarray slide.
Dr. Geletu, a postdoctoral fellow, is currently conducting research into proteins that are found on the surface of cells and can trigger the unchecked cell division that takes place in cases of cancer.
“One of these proteins is often present in high amounts in cases of breast cancer. However, even if the action of this protein is inhibited, the cancer is not stopped in half of all cases,” says Dr. Geletu, who is originally from Ethiopia. “This indicates that there are other mechanisms at work that can make the cancer grow.”
Dr. Geletu is examining the role of another recently identified protein that promotes cell division, helps the formation of blood vessels to feed tumors, and allows tumors to evade detection by the immune system.
The AARC conference is taking place on April 2-6 in Florida.