Notice of Online Archive

  • This page is no longer being updated and remains online for informational and historical purposes only. The information is accurate as of the last page update.

    For questions about page contents, contact the Communications Division.

One student’s research into chemokines, proteins found in many of the body’s cells, may contribute to the battle against cancer.

“The whole goal of the project is to show possibly that chemokine overproduction desensitizes T cells that fight cancer cells,” says biology major Evan Adler ’02 (Ocean, N.J.).

Adler is working as an EXCEL Scholar with Robert Kurt, assistant professor of biology. In EXCEL, students assist faculty members with research while earning a stipend.

“Dr. Kurt designed the experiment and I’m following it,” Adler says. “Now we’ve obtained cloned tumor cells and we’re trying to knock out the chemokine genes.”

The title of the project is “Creation of an Anti-sense Chemokine Retroviral Vector.” According to Kurt, he and Adler will try to stop tumor cells from producing a specific chemokine.

“We’re trying to turn off production in the tumor cell,” says Kurt, who adds that it may take a month or two to note success. The student and professor are working with breast cancer cells, but believe their research may also target other types of cancer.

Adler calls the EXCEL opportunity “unbelievable.”

“It’s really exciting to do,” says Adler, who may seek a career in research or go to medical school. “I don’t think many undergraduates get a chance like this.”

He adds that Kurt is “really intelligent and good at explaining the kind of things we’re doing.”

According to Kurt, chemokines play a pivotal role in the maturation of the immune system and in the initiation and maintenance of an immune response.

“Because of their key role in the immune response, the aberrant expression of chemokines can have a profound effect on the ability of T cells to respond to antigen,” says Kurt. “We have found that several breast cancer cell lines produced chemokines capable of recruiting T cells.

“However, instead of increasing anti-tumor immunity, the tumor-derived
chemokines may have prevented an effective immune response by desensitizing T-cell chemokine receptors.”

The techniques Adler is expected to use in his work in the lab this summer are tissue culture, polymerase chain reaction, gene cloning, bacterial transformation, DNA isolation and analysis.

A graduate of Ocean Township High School in New Jersey, Adler is a residence adviser and played soccer last year.

Categorized in: Academic News