CSSIMMW/UPJ Partnership Results in Manuscript Publication

Posted: 2/23/2016
Four years ago, a joint venture was initiated between Chan Soon-Shiong Institute of Molecular Medicine at Windber (CSSIMMW) and the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown which has led to the publication of a manuscript in the Journal of Translational Medicine. A team led by Lisa Bell-Loncella, associate professor and Chemistry Department chair at Pitt-Johnstown, and George Iida, director of cell biology at CSSIMMW, hypothesized that some metal-containing complexes recently reported in the literature might have potential in treating breast cancer.

Two Pitt-Johnstown students, Marc Purazo, who is now a research associate at CSSIMMW, and Yifeng Lu began experiments in the CSSIMMW facilities to test the hypothesis. They found that one complex showed significant growth inhibition against various cancer cells, including breast and bone cancers, and also melanoma and lymphoma. Importantly, Purazo demonstrated that the complex inhibited the production of growth factors that are important for establishing tumor metastasis.

Furthermore, the complex synergistically inhibited malignant breast cancer cell growth with cyclophosphamide, a current chemotherapy drug. The results suggest that these complexes are promising anti-cancer drugs that inhibit progression and metastasis by blocking multiple processes in breast cancer and other types of cancer.

Bell-Loncella commented, “Although prior researchers have published similar results, it was exciting for us on several fronts. We were able to replicate the research and, most importantly, we had identified a great collaboration opportunity for a faculty member at Pitt-Johnstown and a researcher at CSSIMMW while involving students in the process. Also, with this success we are exploring the possibility of other compounds (new and not previously reported in literature) to study.”

“We believe that this is a great starting point for establishing further strong research/education programs between the two organizations, providing research opportunities for students who seek biomedical sciences as their careers in this region,” said Iida.

Janet L. Grady, vice president for Academic Affairs and chair for the Nursing and Health Sciences Division at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, said, “The work of Dr. Iida and Dr. Bell-Loncella is a model for the type of academic and scientific collaboration we had in mind when we developed the partnership between Pitt-Johnstown and CSSIMMW in 2012. While their work represents a significant contribution to the scientific literature, it is also providing valuable experiential learning opportunities for Pitt-Johnstown students.”

Helping with daily experiments and result interpretation were CSSIMMW research associates Rebecca Clancy, Jesse Dorchak, and Julianna Slavik. Additional collaborators included Mary Lou Cutler, professor of pathology and director of the molecular and cellular biology program at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, and Colonel Craig D. Shriver, founding director of the John P. Murtha Cancer Center at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

This research was supported by a grant from the United States Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity (USAMRAA) (Breast Cancer Translational Research: W81XWH-12-2-0050) and partially by USMCI (MDA-905-02-2-0005).

Pictured below, left to right: Marc Purazo, CSSIMMW research associate I; Rebecca Clancy, CSSIMMW research associate II; Julie Slavik, CSSIMMW research associate II; William Yarnia, CSSIMMW research associate II; Jesse Dorchak, CSSIMMW research associate II; George Iida, CSSIMMW director of cell biology.
Tags: Chan Soon-Shiong Institute of Molecular Medicine at Windber  Cancer Research  University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown