STEM Talk Sheds Light on Cancer Resistance

Biologist Sreerupa Ray earned a PhD from Louisiana State University. Her work has been published in the scientific journal "Nucleic Acids." (Madelyn Petta/The Independent)

By Madelyn Petta – Managing Editor

For Sreerupa Ray of Linfield College, the most fundamental process in studying cancer is how chromosomes respond to damage. Ray presented her findings on how proteins can repair damaged chromosomes at this month’s installment in Clark’s STEM Seminar series on May 11.

From noon to 1 p.m. in STEM building room 151, Ray, who earned a doctorate in biochemistry from Louisiana State University and a postdoctoral degree at Yale School of Medicine, explained how chromosome damage, called aberration, triggers intricate response pathways. Ray’s studies and research focus on the role of a certain protein, DNA Polymerase Beta, in aberration repair.
Ray said chromosome damage is normal in cell replication, but what grabs her attention is when normal response triggers, like repair or cell death, aren’t occurring, which allows cancerous cells to grow exponentially.
Ray’s research involves intentionally damaging isolated cells and activating Red Fluorescent Proteins.

Another way to analyze damage repair is through a Cellometer, a machine that shows cell “comet tails” in motion. Ray said the risk for cancer is higher when less damage is repaired and more broken particles are trailing behind the cell.

“It’s about putting all these pieces together, one day,” Ray said.

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