Florida Tech Targeting Cancer Through New Research

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A new grant was awarded to Florida Tech will support cancer research that could lead to new therapeutics.

Florida Tech’s Eric Guisbert, assistant professor at the college of Biomedical and Chemical Engineering and Sciences, and Karen Kim Guisbert, a research assistant professor, received a $430,000 federal grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health.

The funding will also support shifting two graduate students into full-time research and provide for two undergraduate students to do summer research.

“This grant is going to give us more resources and will increase pace of our research,” Eric Guisbert said, noting this is the largest grant he’s won in his five years at Florida Tech. “It validates our approach. Everything we’ve done on this project up to now has supported this grant.”

Cell defenses are subverted when affected by cancer, which turns the normally precise defense mechanisms into high gear.  According to Eric Guisbert, 80 percent of women with invasive breast cancer have high levels of Heat Shock Factor 1 (HSF1), a key regulator of cellular defenses.  The Guisberts have discovered a new way that the HSF1 gene can be regulated. They have shown that the SF3B1 gene that becomes mutated in breast cancer, chronic lymphocytic leukemia and other forms of cancer can affect HSF1 and control how cells respond to stress.  This discovery provides insight into the stress defense system in cancer and provides a new target to disrupt cancer cells with goal of treating the disease.

“The more we understand how these two pathways are connected, the better we’ll be able to manipulate it for therapies,” Eric Guisbert said.

The Guisberts’ scientific discoveries are the work of over three years of research, and finding funding has been an extensive part of the process, as well. They received funding from various agencies, such as the Florida Translational Research Program, the Community Foundation for Brevard, a Florida-based philanthropic organization, and Florida Tech.

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I write about research at Florida Tech. For any inquiries, contact me at 321-674-8937 or rrandall@fit.edu.

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