Penn State: Inspiring Collaboration


Uploaded by PennState on 02.02.2012

Transcript:
Every year in the US, over 40,000 people are affected by leukemia.
What if we could reduce that number to zero?
At a weekly informal faculty lunch about two years ago, Sandeep Prabhu, an associate professor
of immunology and molecular toxicology here at Penn State, briefed his colleagues about
the research he and his team were up to.
Bob Paulson, an associate professor of veterinary and biomedical sciences was there.
WHEN SANDEEP WAS TALKING ABOUT HIS WORK, YOU KNOW IT WAS INTERESTING, IT WASN'T WHAT I
DO.
AT THAT TIME, HE DIDN'T SAY ANYTHING. BUT THEN, HE CAME ACROSS THIS ARTICLE.
I SHOWED UP IN HIS OFFICE WITH THIS PAPER IN HAND
SO HE CAME RUNNING TO ME WITH THAT PAPER.
WELL, I KIND OF SAID, IS THIS WHAT YOU WORK ON, RIGHT?
And that is the beginning of what could well be a possible cure for leukemia.
Dr. Paulson is studying the stem cells that cause leukemia.
Dr. Prabhu is studying how fish oil is changed into bioactive molecules by cells in our bodies.
One of those molecules is called "J-3."
When they teamed up and treated the leukemia stem cells with "J-3," they found that it
does something no one expected.
THIS IS THE FIRST TIME WE HAVE SHOWN THAT CANCER STEM CELLS CAN BE TARGETED.
WHAT IT DOES IS THAT IT TELLS THEM TO DIE.
And that targeting is important. Stem cells tend to hide during conventional chemotherapy.
They're nearly impossible to kill.
Initial investigations indicate that J3 tells the leukemia stem cells to destroy themselves...
and leaves the healthy cells alone.
Every single time. In the petrie dish and in mice. The leukemia cells die and do not
come back.
I'M CAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISTIC. RIGHT NOW, I'M SAYING THAT WE'VE CURED IT IN MICE.
Currently, the team is studying the compound on human cells in the lab.
Once proven there, next steps include human trials.
Drs. Paulson and Prabhu say they're excited and ready for what lies ahead -- and what
began simply enough with a question amidst pizzas and powerpoint presentations.
And yes -- they still attend that faculty lunch each week. Because you never know where
inspiration will come from.
IT'S ONE OF THOSE NICE TIMES IN SCIENCE WHERE YOU DO AN EXPERIMENT AND YOU KNOW WHAT THE
NEXT EXPERIMENT TO DO IS AND WE'RE ROLLIN', YOU KNOW? THERE'S NO LOOKING BACK.
Penn State. Inspiring Collaboration.