Spotlight on Student Research
Malachia Hoover has been working on a project relevant to pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related deaths. Newly diagnosed pancreatic cancer patients on average survive less than a year. Notably, there are virtually no biomarkers to aid in early detection of this disease or in predicting its therapy responsiveness. Identifying and validating such biomarkers is hampered by the fact that researchers have limited access to fresh tumor tissue for screening RNA. Banking fresh-frozen tumor samples has proven very challenging. In contrast, formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) samples are routinely collected by pathologists, and substantial archives of FFPE tissues are linked to clinical data. It would, therefore, be great to develop a method for harvesting high-quality RNA from FFPE samples. To this end we have established a collaboration with Claremont BioSolutions, a company that has recently pioneered nucleic acid extraction. We are testing their new micro-homogenizer on FFPE samples. Malachia has demonstrated that the addition of micro-homogenization upstream of FFPE RNA extraction significantly improved total RNA yield, purity, and the length of recovered sequences. Our long-term goal is to optimize these methods to gain critical insights into gene signatures that govern pancreatic cancer progression, metastasis, therapy responsiveness, and disease outcome. more Spotlights...