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Tracking the Cancer Genes

Student Tapped for St. Jude National Symposium

Doctoral candidate Jean-Bosco Tagne, left, works with Prof. Robert Nicolosi on research that he has been invited to present at the St. Jude National Graduate Student Symposium.

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One day, cancer may be treated with gene therapy and pharmaceutical creams, instead of surgery and toxic drugs, thanks to the work of doctoral student Jean-Bosco Tagne. Researchers from the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital recognized the quality of Tagne’s work and invited him to their 2007 National Graduate Student Symposium in Memphis, for a poster session and oral presentation.

“It’s a great honor to be invited,” says Tagne. “St. Jude selects students nationally, in order to attract the best for their post-doctoral positions.”

Tagne works with Prof. Robert Nicolosi, director of the Center for Health and Disease Research. They have been studying the effectiveness of cancer drugs prepared as nanoemulsionsߞ;turning large-molecule drugs into very small ones that can be applied dermally.

“The emulsion makes the drug much more bioavailable,” says Nicolosi. “It moves very quickly into the bloodstream, dramatically reducing tumor growth in mice or human cell culture, as well as inhibiting tumor recurrence.”

Tagne aims to understand what’s happening to genes and proteins during treatment: the “damage and repair pathway.” For this he uses the techniques of micro-array technology, namely, genome wide location analysis and expression analysis.

“This will greatly improve our understanding of diseases such as breast and melanoma cancer in humans by identifying their specific leader genes,” he says. “Mapping the protein-protein interactions and regulatory networks will be key to uncovering disease mechanismsߞ;we want to understand a drug’s actions in terms of cellular, cell cycle and DNA damage networks.”