Pilot Projects

Identification of CpGs to use as early detection biomarkers in pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer (PC) has an extremely high mortality/incidence ratio and poor 5-year survival rates at 7.7%, especially among non-resectable disease where mean survival is 3-6 months. For patients with early stage and resectable disease, the mean survival is much better at 32 months. It is clear that early detection is key for PC. Pancreatic adenocarcinoma (PAAD) is the most common type, representing about 90% of diagnosed cases. Unfortunately, limited progress has been made identifying and validated such CpG based biomarker panels for PC in the epidemiological setting.  Most epigenome-wide studies (EWAS) rely on statistical evidence of effect alone and are often likely to be underpowered to detect modest differences.

In this project, we will use a process for identifying differentially methylated CpG markers and regions across the genome to help addresses the immediate

Project Leader
Dr. Rick Jansen

Dr. Jansen, an assistant professor in the Department of Public Health, has an overarching research program which is focused on improving the health and wellness of the human population, specifically underrepresented or disadvantaged populations in North Dakota. Regarding pancreatic cancer, Dr. Jansen’s research has focused on identifying preventative risk factors and potentially effective early detection blood-based biomarkers.

Bio-manufacturing of Cancerous Pancreas Tissue with Controlled Gradient Scaffold Structure

Material, structure and manufacturing process are the troika for determining the performance of engineered product. In tissue engineering, plethora of work is directed towards finding the ‘perfect’ material for functional scaffold to regenerate the living tissue. However, (meso-) structure and manufacturing processes are rarely investigated due to their limited modality in bio-medical applications. This work is focused on the design and manufacturing of 3D porous scaffolds structure with controllable heterogeneous architecture. PI will seed the pancreatic cancer in the gradient based porous scaffold architecture and investigate the topology of the hypoxic region.  

Project Leader
Dr. Bashir Khoda

Dr. Bashir Khoda is an Assistant Professor of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering Department (IME) ,  at the North Dakota State University (NDSU), Fargo, ND. 

Manufacturing pancreatic cancer tissue microarrays using 3D tumor spheroids

Pancreatic cancer (PaCa) is a heterogeneous disease where pancreatic tumors have multiple origins and biological and clinical characteristics. Substantial differences exist between types and even subtypes of PaCa including genetic risk factors, molecular oncogenesis, mRNA expression, prognosis, and drug response. Therapeutics used in late-stage PaCa treatment are often ineffective in part due to the poor drug specificity and disease heterogeneity. Recent development of personalized treatments in many diseases has substantially improved their clinical outcomes.

A multidisciplinary team (Dr. Amanda Brooks, Pharmaceutical Sciences; Dr. Ben Brooks, ECE; Dr. Yechun Wang, ME) is formed to develop a personalized medicine approach to drug treatment using a 3D spheroid tumor array and a microfluidic biomolecule delivery array to improve clinical outcomes for patients with PaCa. We hypothesize that development of an assay to identify and personalize treatment options and dosing for PaCa patients will result in better clinical outcomes patients. To test this hypothesis, we will complete the following tasks: 1) Develop a microscopic Particle Image Velocimetry system to study the flow field characteristics and tumor cell deposition in a 3D spheroid; 2) Develop a computational model of cell motion and spheroid seeding from microfluidic fluid flow; 3) Develop an assay to determine the cytotoxicity of drugs, drug combinations, and dosing requirements for PaCa Cancer Spheroids.

Project Leader
Dr. Yan Zhang

Dr. Zhang is an assistant professor in the department of mechanical engineering.

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