The title of my research project is “The Combined Effect of Erlotinib and PNUTS Knockdown in Pancreatic Cancer Cells.” The purpose for this project is to compare the effectiveness of the drug Erlotinib and PNUTS Knockdown alone versus the combination of the two. Cells that are cancerous are constantly dividing and resist apoptosis (cell death). Pancreatic cancer is hardly diagnosed, and even when diagnosed in its early stages, it progresses very quickly. Erlotinib is a drug treatment used in pancreatic cancer patients. However, we also want to see if the effect of that drug would be better if used with a method called PNUTS Knockdown. This is a technique used to manipulate a tumor suppressor protein, Rb, which is constantly active in cancer cells.
Working under Dr. Krucher, I know I’d learn a lot in the field of cancer research. Already, she has taught me the basis of our experiment along with the methods she has been using for years. I have learned only a percentage of what I know I will experience in the next year. In order to research how to treat cancer cells, it’s important to know how they work first. That was the first thing I learned so far, specifically with the tumor suppressor protein we’re focusing on. Until now, I have already learned how to split cells and count them microscopically, and to plate them in 96-well plates. Then I also learned how to dilute the drug concentration multiple times and add them to some wells while also being able to do a PNUTS knockdown for others. Using a spectrophotometer, we can see if my experiment has supported our hypothesis or not by finding the cell count for each specifically treated well. So far the experiment is going well and Dr. Krucher has already told me within the next week or so I’ll also be learning to do Western Blotting and by the end of the semester we will start to form the cancer cells in a three-dimensional models. I have already learned so much from this experience. My first week, I was making mistakes everywhere since I’ve never had the opportunity to work in a lab before. However, I can say I’ve greatly improved in the techniques I’ve learned and will only continue to improve for the next year.