Division of BioMedical Sciences

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Research Projects

IRF1 and viral oncolysis 
Oncolytic viruses are engineered or naturally occurring viruses that replicate in cancer cells, but not in normal cells. We investigate molecular mechanisms of how oncolytic viruses selectively infect cancer cells. We recently identified that one of the oncogenic signaling pathways, Ras/MEK, inhibits function of a cellular antiviral protein known as interferon regulatory factor (IRF)-1.  

Schematic diagram illustrating why cancer cells are more susceptible to oncolytic viruses
Cancer-specific fluorescence induced by protoporphyrin IX
Protoporphyrin IX (PpIX) is an endogenous photosensitizer that is accumulated in a cancer-cell specific manner following treatment with the heme precursor 5-aminolevulinic acid (5-ALA). The cancer-specific fluorescence of PpIX is used to distinguish tumor from normal tissue, which has proven clinically useful during fluorescence-image guided surgery. We are seeking ways to   increase the cancer-specific fluorescence by chemical inhibitors targeting cellular signaling pathways.   

PpIX fluorescence in mouse breast tumors treated with vehicle, 5ALA/DMSO or 5AlA/inhibitor