A junior studying biology at The University of Toledo is one of 200 students around the globe chosen to participate this week at the inaugural World Congress on Undergraduate Research.
Nicholas Stimes, who is studying abroad in England this semester, will present his work on colon cancer cells at the conference Nov. 13-15 at Qatar University in Qatar, a country located in the Persian Gulf.“It is an honor to represent UT at a global conference and share the meaningful research I have been working on for several years that will help develop cancer-targeting drugs and improve current treatment options for patients,” Stimes said. “This also is an opportunity to experience a new culture and learn about dozens of other research projects.”
The 20-year-old started working in Dr. Deborah Chadee’s lab as a first-year student. For the past two years, Stimes continued to work in her lab as part of the summer fellowship program through the UT Office of Undergraduate Research.
“It is wonderful for an undergraduate to have an opportunity to present research at an international conference,” Chadee, associate professor of biological sciences, said. “Nick has done outstanding work. I am very excited that he was selected to present his research on proteins called MAP kinases and their function in controlling the growth and spread of colon cancer cells.”
Through his experiments, Stimes helped discover a way to slow the spread of colon cancer cells and identified what may be blocking the effectiveness of a drug known for attacking proteins associated with the spread of cancer.
“Without a specific protein called MLK3, cells are less invasive and have impaired ability to spread or metastasize,” Stimes said. “Then we experimented with the drug called geldanamycin, which is being tested in clinical trials and has shown promising results with other cancers. Geldanamycin reduced levels of MLK3. However, we demonstrated that hydrogen peroxide and other reactive oxygen species that are common in cells block geldanamycin from working.”
The goal of Stimes’ research, titled “Oxidative Stress and MAPK Signaling in Colon Cancer Cells,” is to provide information about a possible therapeutic target for new colon cancer treatments.
“You can think of it as a significant piece of a much larger puzzle,” Stimes said.
According to organizers of the World Congress on Undergraduate Research, “Our aim is to bring together the best undergraduate research in the world to focus our collective minds on some of the most significant challenges facing the global community today.”