April 18, 2014
SIU Med School Receives IDPH Grant to Study Breast Cancer Metastasis
A research scientist at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Springfield has been awarded a 1.5-year grant from the Penny Severns Breast and Cervical Cancer Research Fund of the Illinois Department of Public Health to study breast cancer metastasis. The total budget for the grant is $150,000.
Daotai Nie, Ph.D., associate professor of medical microbiology, immunology and cell biology, is the principal investigator for the project.
Currently there is no effective treatment for metastatic breast cancer, which is the predominant cause of sickness and death in breast cancer patients. Using animal models, the study will look at how breast cancer cells spread to distant organs like the bone, lung and brain. The research theorizes that metastatic cancer cells acquire certain levels of cellular plasticity (the ability of cells to take on characteristics of other cells elsewhere in the body) as they grow and move to distant organs. Researchers will identify and validate a potential target of intervention, Nanog (a protein-coding gene), to eliminate metastatic breast cancer cells. The results of the research may lead to the development of a future treatment for metastatic breast cancer.
Nie’s research has been funded for 15 years by various agencies including the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Defense and now totals $3.5 million. His research has focused on the cellular and molecular alterations in the malignant progression of tumors.
Dr. Krishna Rao, Ph.D., associate professor of hematology/oncology, is co-investigator. Both Nie and Rao also are members of the Simmons Cancer Institute at SIU. Man-Tzu Wang, a former graduate student at SIU, participated in preliminary research for the project.
Nie joined the SIU faculty in 2005. He earned his doctoral degree at the University of South Carolina in Columbia (1997) and his master’s degree at the Institute of Genetics, Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing (1991).