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NDSU professor receives grant for cancer research

Photo of Wenfang Sun

Wenfang Sun

Wenfang Sun, James A. Meier Senior Professor of chemistry and biochemistry, has received a $431,850 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to conduct breast cancer research.

“Triple-negative breast cancer is an aggressive form of breast cancer for which limited treatment options exist. Surgical treatment can prolong life but are rarely curative, and both chemotherapy and radiotherapy options fail on this cancer,” Sun said. “Immunotherapy could extend survival for a few months for some patients, but many patients (especially those with autoimmune diseases) are not candidates for immunotherapy. Therefore, there is an urgent need for developing alternative treatment modalities for treating triple-negative breast cancer.”

The three-year research project will use a far-red/near-infrared absorbing photosensitizer that was developed in Sun’s laboratory. The research team will explore a combination of photodynamic and photothermal therapies, searching for far-red/near infra-red light-activated, oxygen self-sufficient and cancer-specific drugs that attack tumors in triple-negative breast cancer patients.

The approach has shown positive results on cancer cells and orthotopic breast tumors in mice.

“The outcome of this study could potentially advance photodynamic and photothermal therapies to translational and clinical research to generate a more effective and much safer cancer treatment modality for triple-negative breast cancer patients in the future,” Sun said.

Twelve undergraduate students and two graduate students will be trained in biomedical research through this project

Sun earned her bachelor’s degree at Wuhan University, China, and her doctorate from the Institute of Photographic Chemistry at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. She was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

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Last Updated: Wednesday, June 22, 2022 9:08:16 AM
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