Finding the killing trigger

I’m happy to report that I just reached the halfway point of my time at Dana Farber and my research has been moving along quite well.  My cell lines have remained healthy and my media sterile which has greatly helped me avoid any small technical mishaps that might prevent my work from moving forward.  I’ve been busy carrying out a procedure that measures how close a cell is to apoptosis (death) called BH3 profiling. I am doing this by measuring varying peptides that will depolarize as a cell nears death.  I then compare the rates of depolarization amongst cells that have been treated by different conditions each acting either as a control or attempting to push the cell closer to death.  I have noticed that the Bim peptide (involved in the apoptotic pathway) shows the greatest change in pushing the cell closer to death when treated with a conditioned media solution from macrophages with an anti-tumor phenotype.

In an effort better understand why this conditioned media may be having such a great effect on the priming (pushing closer to death) of these cells, I have repeated the BH3 profiling procedure numerous times each targeting a different antibody that may be secreted from the anti-tumor macrophages.  The results have been quite staggering in that we’ve found an antibody that is likely playing a key factor in pushing a cell closer to the threshold of death.  If we are able to confirm that this is true through many more lab tests, there is hope that it might be incorporated into a clinical trial drug that we hope to have in the clinic in the next year or so.

The work I’m doing continues to get more and more exciting as each new set of results opens up questions and a series of tests that will hopefully bring us closer to answering many of the “how” and “why” questions surrounding cancer.