Creating a chemotherapeutic-resistant breast cancer cell line begins with a complete understanding of what causes resistant tumors and how to prevent them. Researchers at Indiana State University are striving to do just that.
“I think every woman on the planet has a personal association with either someone they love or someone they know having suffered through this disease. That really inspired me to be doing something for it,” said Catherine Steding, assistant professor of biology and faculty member of The Center for Genomic Advocacy. “I’m not an M.D., so I can’t work one-on-one with the patients. But I can certainly do anything I can to try to understand what is going on and see if maybe there is some way I can contribute to treating it.”
Steding began her research in May to hopefully give the medical world a better understanding of how some of the chemotherapeutic agents lead to resistant tumors and what medicine combinations can prevent it. Not only is Steding researching these cell lines, but also she is generating them and analyzing the process through which resistance develops.
Creating the resistant cell lines provides the opportunity to compare the cells to those that are not resistant and eventually ability to study how to reverse the resistance or to make them sensitive to another drug.
“I have always believed that treating cancer was going to require multiple approaches. Not one drug was ever going to do it,” Steding said. “By doing these kinds of studies, we can start to identify if you have taken this drug in the past, it would be better if you take this combination now to treat your cancer.”
In tackling a project with immeasurable potential, Steding is not alone in her research. Keeley Williams, a junior biology student from Reelsville, Ind., participated in the university’s Summer Undergraduate Research Experience this year and made her way onto Steding’s research project.
SURE gives Indiana State students who wish to pursue research in the natural sciences the opportunity for hands-on experiences under the direction of science faculty. Daughter of Marcus and Tina Williams, Williams said she dreams of earning her Ph.D. in microbiology, specifically continuing research within the medical field. For Steding’s breast cancer research, Williams is learning how to appropriately collect data, analyze the results and write up a report for each cell line.
Williams was the “perfect candidate” for the project, Steding said, and actively sought to be a part of it.
“There are many jobs offered to freshly graduated students that require skills that can only be learned through the hands-on experience. My research gives me the opportunity to learn theses valuable skills,” Williams said.
Steding will be applying for external funding to continue their research. She said she hopes to collaborate with other professionals to take her research to the next level. “Working with Dr. Steding has been wonderful! She is fabulous to work with and she is a fantastic teacher. I am thankful for the opportunity to work with her and to learn everything she has to teach me,” Williams said.