Keene State College students are currently partnering with Dartmouth Medical Center on research which could, someday, be a form of cancer treatment.
Chemistry Professor Paul Baures who runs the research that students are working on said the research includes slightly changing a molecular structure so that fatty acids in breast cancer cells can be attacked.
Baures said the research began when the National Institute of Health found that one of the structures Baures and his students that chose to take part in the project tested was found to be the most active out of over 300,000 structures.
Baures said the structure involves fatty acid synthesis, which is something breast cancer cells rely on.
2017 KSC graduate Emily Wollert said she spent a lot of time working on the research during her time at KSC.
“Certain types of cancers need a high amount of fatty acids to grow. So we took a look at the structure of chemical molecules that are potent but not stable and slightly changed the structure. It has to be in the right part of the body to work,” Wollart said.
“Inhibiting this enzyme could help to treat cancer. It may not be able to do it alone but it could be effective when used with other drugs,” Baures said.
Baures said that knowing the structure was active and could impact cells caused him to reach out to Dr. William Kinlaw at Dartmouth Medical Center.
From there, Baures said his students and staff at Dartmouth Medical Center began testing on mouse plasma.
Another alumnus from Wollert’s class Evan Dunkley said breast cancer cells require something called NOVO synthesis.
The process is described on the Khan Academy website as “the synthesis of complex molecules from simple molecules such as sugars or amino acids instead of recycling after particle degradation.”
Dunkley said he is now working on getting his Ph.D. at Dartmouth College while taking part in various other research projects relating to chemistry.
Wollert said she got interested in the project during her second semester of junior year when she knew people who were doing other types of research.
She went to Professor Baures and, out of the options of what to research, she found this one the most interesting to her.
Wollert said being able to present her findings to people with a lot of knowledge is a good way for her to get used to the research and presentation process.
Wollert said that, currently, she is working a job at a chemist control lab.
Baures said the funding for the research comes from New Hampshire Idea Network of Biomedical Research, which is a group that helps with research going on in New Hampshire.
Baures said the results of the study weren’t what him or his students we’re expecting but he is glad about where the research is going.
“It is important for student outcomes. We have undergraduates at KSC doing things that graduate students at other schools are doing by finding these discoveries,” Baures said.
Colby Dudal can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org