UMass Memorial Research and Articles

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UMMS researchers make ‘startling’ discovery that a Salmonella protein reduces drug resistance in tumors
By Jim Fessenden                                                                                                                                          July 25, 2016
UMass Medical School Communications
A surprising result in an experiment on Salmonella bacteria has led to a discovery that may make drug-resistant cancer cells more treatable by conventional chemotherapies. Scientists at UMass Medical School have found that the Salmonella protein SipA naturally reduces a well-known drug-resistant molecule found in many different types of cancer cells. By delivering the protein attached to tiny gold nanoparticles, researchers were able to dramatically boost tumor sensitivity to chemotherapeutic drugs and shrink colon and breast cancer tumors in mice.
Click here to learn more!

NIH study builds on previous UMMS research into chemoresistance in breast, ovarian cancer
Cantor lab contributes to clues that may help fight hereditary cancers resistant to drugs
By Sarah Willey                                                                                                                                             July, 21, 2016
UMass Medical School Communications
A new study published in Nature, based on research by UMass Medical School’s Sharon Cantor, PhD, helps scientists better understand how hereditary breast and ovarian cancer genes function in the repair of broken DNA.

The Nature paper, led by National Institutes of Health lead investigator André Nussenzweig, PhD, further demonstrates that chemoresistance is not dependent on restored DNA repair. In particular, they found that resistance in BRCA1 or BRCA2 deficient mouse cells was achieved by loss of either PTIP or PARP1 because stalled replication forks were protected from nuclease digestion. Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences student Nicholas Panzarino, and Jennifer Calvo, PhD, research associate in Dr. Cantor’s lab, contributed to the study and discovered CHD4 loss in BRCA2 mutant cells also protected stalled replication forks.  Click here to learn more!

Optogenetic technology developed at UMass Memorial uses light to trigger immunotherapy
By Jim Fessenden                                                                                                                                   January 27, 2016
UMass Medical School Communications
A new optogenetic technology developed at UMass Medical School, called optogenetic immunomodulation, is capable of turning on immune cells to attack melanoma tumors in mice.


Using near-infrared light, UMMS researchers have shown they can selectively activate an immune response by controlling the flow of calcium ions into the cell.  This breakthrough could lead to less invasive, and more controlled and selective, immunotherapies for cancer treatment, according to Gang Han, PhD, assistant professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology.

For more on Dr. Han's research click here. 


Expert's Corner:  Family physicians Ron Adler on cancer screenings and over diagnosis
By Megan Bard                                                                                                                                    November 24, 2015
UMass Medical School Communications
As conflicting cancer screening guidelines create confusion, it is essential for patients to have a frank discussion with their doctors about when and how often to be tested.


Dr. Ronald Adler, associate professor of family medicine & community health, strongly advises patients to talk to their doctors about their concerns and that physicians balance screening recommendations with patient priorities as a means to reduce chances of over diagnosis and overtreatment.  For more on Dr. Adler's opinions on cancer screenings and over diagnosis click here.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is warning that processed meats cause colon cancer and red meat may do so as well
By Bryan Goodchild and Megan Bard                                                                                                     October 27, 2015
UMass Medical School Communications
UMMS colorectal expert Karim Alavi, MD, believes moderation is key cautioning his patients to limit but no forgo those foods.  For more on Dr. Alavi's opinion and the WHO report click here.

Hear from UMass Memorial on how The American Cancer Society has revised its guidelines for breast cancer screening
By Megan Bard and Bryan Goodchild                                                                                                     October 22, 2015 UMass Medical School Communications
UMass Medical School, radiologist Gopal R. Vijayaraghavan, MD, MPH, said evidence and literature shows that during the past nearly three decades of mammography use, there has been a drop in mortality ... rates of nearly 30 percent. For this reason, he will continue to recommend annual mammograms in women 40 years and older until he hears compelling evidence to the contrary, despite the latest recommendations from the cancer society.
Click here to watch Dr. Vijayaraghavan full video on the issue!

Michael Green elected to National Academy of Medicine
By Lisa M. Larson                                                                                                                                    October 19, 2015
UMass Medical School Communisations
The National Academy of Medicine has announced the election of Michael R. Green, MD, PhD, for his distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.  Dr. Green was elected to the National Academy of Sciences earlier this year and is the first UMMS faculty member to be named to two national academies.
  Learn more about the honor.

Targeting the "real bad guys"
By Bryan Goodchild and Ellie Castano                                                                                                          July 20, 2015
UMass Medical School Communications
A team of researchers at UMass Medical School is collaborating to develop an effective treatment for triple-negative breast cancer, a particularly aggressive form of the disease. These cancers lack three important markers that are found in other breast tumors, markers that are normally targets for cancer drugs such as Tamoxifin.
Click here to learn more!


Scientists help develop a new molecule that may aid leukemia survival
By Jim Fessenden                                                                                                                                           April 3, 2015
UMass Medical School Communications
A novel molecule designed by scientists at UMass Medical School and the University of Virginia inhibits progression of a hard-to-treat form of recurring acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in patient tissue.  The small molecule is one of the first designed to specifically target a cancer-causing transcription factor previously thought to be an "undruggable" target. Click here to learn more!


New drug resistance mechanism has implications for breast, ovarian cancer treatment
By Mark L. Shelton                                                                                                                                       March 4, 2015
UMass Medical School Communications
Sharon Cantor, PhD, associate professor of molecular, cell & cancer biology, and colleagues. They used an innovative genome-wide RNA screen to determine why so many instances of ovarian cancers develop resistance to the cancer drug cisplatin.
Click here to learn more of what Cantor's group has found.

Zebra Fish... Did you know this tiny little fish is helping find a cure for melanoma at UMass?
Craig J. Ceol, PhD, is using the zebra fish to study melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, and melanocytes, the pigment-producing cell in human skin that can become cancerous melanoma.  Over the last 40 years, melanoma rates have increased more than 200 percent, and melanoma is now the most common form of cancer in adults between the ages of 25 and 29.

Because the zebra fish has similar melanocytes to those found in humans, Dr. Ceol, Assistant Professor of Molecular Medicine, and other scientists are using the translucent fish to identify genes responsible for melanoma, with the hope of identifying new targets for potential treatments.

Calling skin cancer a "major public health problem that requires action," Boris Lushniak, acting Surgeon General, recently issued a call to action to prevent the disease and halt the increase in melanoma cases.