The Impact of Microtubule Actin Crosslinking Factor 1
Posted on October 13, 2023 by Sandra Huffman
Kala Bonner, Assistant Professor of Biology, kicked off the new season of Sweet Talks with a discussion about her cancer research when she met with Sweet Briar students, staff and faculty on September 19 in the Reahard Learning Gallery.
Bonner described her research into the impact of Microtubule Actin Crosslinking Factor 1 (MACF1) on glioblastoma (GBM), a fast growing and aggressive brain cancer. She explained how this cancer is very resistant to treatment and that most patients seldom live beyond 12 years post diagnosis. Also, since cancer is a disease of the cell, all patients respond differently to treatment due to genetic differences.
Three various methods are commonly used to treat cancer. The first is surgery, or the removal of as much as possible. This, she said, is tricky depending on where the cancer is and any remaining cancer cells still have the capacity to grow. A second option is radiation, which is an aggressive treatment that damages the DNA directly. This option is not always precise and can lead to collateral damage of nearby healthy cells. Finally, chemotherapy drugs such as TMZ or BCNU are used.
Bonner explained how GBM is extremely resistant to treatment. Through tests, they found that cancer cells still have the capacity to grow after radiation and chemotherapy. One reason for this is that there is a lack of biomarkers, a measurable substance in an organism whose presence is indicative of some phenomenon such as disease, infection, or environmental exposure. Identification of a common biomarker would provide a better target for radiation and chemotherapy, thus making these forms of treatment more effective. This, she said, is where MACF1 comes into play.
What Bonner and the researchers she works with believe is that MACF1 represents a novel biomarker within glioblastoma that, when inhibited, can enhance the therapeutic efficacy of DNA damaging agents, thus making them more effective.
Through a series of trials, they found that the combinatorial approach using of MACF1 inhibition and treatment were more effective than using treatment alone. Through the inhibition of MACF1, they were able to enhance the efficacy of DNA damaging agents and therefore increase their overall effectiveness when treating GBM cell lines. Bonner concluded her remarks by sharing that they are now applying aspects of this research to ovarian cancer.
Sweet Talks are monthly presentations by faculty and students open to the entire campus community. The next Sweet Talks event is Monday, October 16, when Tracy Chapman Hamilton, Associate Professor of Art History, presents “Redrawing Boundaries: Documenting, Visualizing, and Mapping Medieval Gender.”