Public Relations  >  News Center  >  News Releases  >  October, 2016  >  October 11, 2016  >  New publication highlights cancer research efforts of Creighton physics faculty, undergraduates
New publication highlights cancer research efforts of Creighton physics faculty, undergraduates

Chemotherapy drugs are pretty good at aggressively attacking and destroying cancer cells, but there are some cancers which, when effectively turned back from growing in one location in the body, will find another spot to work and seed new tumors through metastasis, the process causing more than 90 percent of cancer-related deaths.

Last month, a team led by Creighton University physics professor Andrew E. Ekpenyong, PhD, published a paper on the migrating cells and their metastasis in Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, an international journal devoted to the rapid dissemination of timely and significant experimental results, showing how some cancer drugs can promote metastasis and what could be done to develop new anti-metastasis drugs. The full paper can be found here.

Working for years looking at the stiffness of cells in cancers, infectious diseases, and other disorders, Ekpenyong developed a hypothesis that some cancer drugs, while effective at combating already extant cancer, might change the stiffness of cancer cells in ways that inadvertently promote metastasis, the most lethal process cancer has at its disposal.

Ekpenyong is lead author on the paper and is joined by a quartet of his research students from the Creighton College of Arts and Sciences: Sruti Prathivadhi-Bhayankaram, Jianhao Ning, Michael Mimlitz and Carolyn Taylor, and Creighton chemistry professor Erin Gross, PhD. Two of Ekpenyong’s former academic mentors, Michael Nichols, PhD, also a professor in the Creighton Department of Physics, and Jochen Guck, PhD, of the Biotechnology Center at Technische Universität Dresden, in Germany, are also co-authors of the paper.

“It is very thrilling for me to be able to have worked with Creighton students in my research group, collaborated with Creighton faculty and with my two former mentors,” Ekpenyong said. “The students threw themselves into this project and put in an immense amount of work. I could not be more proud of them. We at Creighton are happy to see what our undergraduates are doing.”

Ekpenyong has spent his career taking physics-based approaches to the spread and containment of disease and infection at the cellular level. With the publication, Ekpenyong is hopeful a new set of conversations and a novel vein of research might open, ultimately leading the to the development of effective anti-metastasis drugs.

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