TouroCOM-Middletown Hosts First Research Symposium

Middletown students share unique research interests with peers and community in first annual research fair.

May 08, 2016

Angela Qu, OMS-II, won first place with her two presentations on cancer research. In the first study, “Carbonic Anhydrase IX (CAIX) as a potential biomarker of efficacy in metastatic clear-cell renal cell carcinoma patients receiving sorafenib”, Qu and her colleagues examined the correlation between the expression level of CAIX, a cytosolic transmembrane protein implicated in the regulation of cell survival in response to stress, and treatment response to sorafenib, a targeted therapy used to treat kidney cancer. “The primary objective of this study is to validate the utility of CAIX as a predictive biomarker, and our results showed that despite suggestive data from prior studies, we did not detect a statistically significant correlation between CAIX expression and response to sorafenib. However, this study highlighted the challenge of tissue biomarker research, and emphasized the importance of validating findings from small cohort analyses in large, placebo-controlled studies before drawing any firm conclusions,” said Qu.

In her second study—“Disease-free survival in patients with muscle-invasive urothelial cancer post neoadjuvant dose-dense methotrexate, vinblastine, doxorubicin and cisplatin (ddMVAC) chemotherapy: a correlational analysis of pathologic response, radiologic response, serum biomarkers and DNA excision repair pathway biomarkers”—Qu and her colleagues examined the treatment response and toxicity profile of a modified neoadjuvant chemotherapy – ddMVAC – in patients with non-metastatic muscle-invasive bladder cancer.

Qu noted: “Although efficacious, the traditional MVAC chemotherapy regimen combining methotrexate, vinblastine, doxorubicin and cisplatin incurs significant side effects that when given in a neoadjuvant setting have led to undesirable delays to bladder resection surgery, which remains the definitive treatment for muscle-invasive bladder cancer.” In this study, Qu and her colleagues looked at the effectiveness of a modified regimen of MVAC, which shortened the overall treatment period in effort to decrease toxicity as well as the time from diagnosis to surgery. Their results showed the modified ddMVAC regimen is effective and well tolerated in this patient population. Additionally, the correlational analysis also demonstrated a strong and clinically meaningful association between treatment response and longer time to disease recurrence. “These are very encouraging initial results, and we are very curious to see if this positive correlation would hold true for increase in overall survival in this group of patients, which requires further analysis after a longer follow-up period,” explains Qu, who became interested in clinical research while working at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, where she managed high-risk therapeutic clinical trials in kidney, bladder, and prostate cancers. 

In second place came Sean Orton, OMS-II, whose study (“Detection of ovarian cancer micrometastasis using nanoparticle-delivered probe targeted towards tumor-associated neovasculature”) was a product of his time working for preclinical imaging companies Bruker and Carestream and at the Mor lab at Yale University, where he took part in the development of optical imaging applications to help broaden his understanding of the biology of ovarian cancer and its therapies. “Imaging of cancer cells by fluorescent means has been shown to increase the sensitivity of small tumor metastasis over standard visual inspection. Simply put, the more tumor a surgeon can see, the more they can take out.”

In third place came Amir Olfat, OMS-I (“A Comparison of Growth Factor and Platelet Concentrations Using Different Methods of Platelet Rich Plasma Separation”). Olfat became interested in musculoskeletal disorders while working at the Regenerative Medical Group, where he watched musculoskeletal disorders treated through platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy. “PRP has gained increasing popularity in the field of orthopedic and sports medicine as it has shown to clinically expedite the healing process of soft and hard tissues,” explains Olfat. “Despite its prevalent use, the effectiveness of varying techniques of PRP preparation have yet to be evaluated. The goal of my study was to compare different PRP preparation techniques in order to accurately determine the best method that will maximize the concentration of platelets, growth factors and bioactive molecules.”

Middletown Research Director- David Yens, PhD, said he was “very impressed” with the quality of the posters.  “The quality of the work bodes well for the future of research in the osteopathic profession, and it was wonderful to have members of the Middletown community stop by to see the students’ work.”

Participants’ posters are now displayed in frames on the walls of TouroCOM-Middletown for all to enjoy.