April 14, 2006

Undergrad Publishes Work on Breast Cancer Tumors

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Erin Dauchy ’08 has a lot to look forward to over the next few weeks. Her first scientific paper will be published in the May volume of the Journal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science.

“This work is her first first-author publication, even though she’s had a number of publications under her belt,” said Robert T. Dauchy, Erin’s father and the manager of the Bassett Research Institute laboratory in Cooperstown, N.Y. where she conducted her research. “This is a project we’ve been working on for the past two years or so that she’s kind of spearheaded.”

“She has basically become a member of our research group and she works for us whenever she can,” said David E. Blask Ph.D., M.D., the Senior Research Scientist at the Institute.

Dauchy has done a lot of work involving breast cancer tumors, and has been involved in the research behind six papers, and about 10 abstracts.

The paper on which she is first authoring deals with a new method for perfusing tumors.

About 30 years ago, Robert and colleagues invented a procedure which allowed them to grow tumors in rats. Each of these tumors had a single artery and vein running to it, which allowed for it to be isolated.

Through the perfusion method he developed, it is possible to take blood from donor rats and ensure that the donor blood is the only blood supply reaching the tumor. Various agents can also be added to the donor blood to see if they have an effect on the tumors, Robert said.

According to Erin, an integral part of this profusion system is a pump which the blood sample must go through. The original design involved a large pump which took some time to fill before it began working effectively. This time delay could lead to complications.

“There’s a risk that the agent in the blood will be degraded,” she said.

Robert added, “About one and a half to two years ago, we developed a much smaller profusion line that’s actually the smallest in the world, only one millimeter. It allowed us to pass blood from the reservoir to the tumor in a fraction of the time. No one else in the world had this.”

“We had to make sure the faster delivery rate wasn’t having negative effects on our results,” Erin said.

The effectiveness of the new technique is what Erin’s paper mainly deals with, and she reported that the results were consistent with tests done using the older system.

“We were able to show that our new profusion system delivered blood at a faster but constant rate,” Erin said. “Faster delivery had no negative effects. Blood pH and concentrations of arterial blood gasses were constant.”

According to Erin, there are other methods of profusion which are more common. However, they have other risks associated with them. Some of these other methods involve taking the tumor out of the rats, growing tumors in a culture or injecting agents directly into the tumor through a syringe, which has a high risk of tissue damage.

“The results we get are more meaningful because we’re perfusing in the actual system,” Erin said. “I feel [this method is] more applicable because the tumor can stay in the body and receives blood via an artery.”

“There are not very many people in the world that have not in some way been touched by the cancer issue,” Robert said.

He added, “What this particular paper deals with that’s so exciting, is that Erin has been able to use this system to use three agents, and she has shown that she can block the growth of this particular type of cancer.”

“I’m excited,” Erin said. “It’s the first paper that I wrote, so I’m very eager to see how it will be accepted by the scientific community.”

The response to the paper is expected to be favorable.

“I think it will be received very positively. It’s a very important contribution to the field,” Blask said.

He added, “Sometimes it takes five to 10 years before a paper is really appreciated for the contribution that’s been made. Once other scientists start quoting your work, then you know you’ve seriously had an impact.”

“I think it’s a very diverse readership, for one thing, and I think it’s going to be very exciting for [Erin],” Robert said.

Erin hopes that her paper will lead other researchers to adopt this profusion method.

“I’m kind of hoping the perfusion technique will be used more, because right now we’re the only lab that uses it,” she said. “It’s very delicate, and it takes a lot of patience and precision. If more people start to use it, I don’t think it’s going to be immediately. I think it will take a while.”Corn

Archived article by Sara Gorecki
Sun Staff Writer