On this week’s The Sci-Files, your hosts Chelsie and Danny interview Matthew Swiatnicki. Matt is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics. The Andrechek lab studies primarily breast and lung cancer, with Matt’s thesis work having potential implications for lung cancer patients. Work from the Andrechek lab has uncovered a gene mutation within certain lung cancer tumors. The normal protein product that is derived from the mutated gene is known to regulate an important cancer protein called the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). Since the gene is mutated, we are hypothesizing it can no longer regulate EGFR, and this could enable tumors with the mutation to grow at a faster rate. Tumors with this mutation may also be susceptible to a currently approved lung cancer treatment, called a tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI). Matt’s work is focusing on characterizing tumors with this mutation, and determining the potential efficacy of using TKIs to treat these tumors.
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