Vaccine development is incredibly important in the field of cancer research. These innovative new treatments hold great potential for preventing and slowing cancer. Dr. Suckow, the Director of the Freimann Life Sciences Center and an Associate Research Professor of Biological Sciences, studies the effectiveness of tissue vaccines. These vaccines are harvested from tumor tissue and try to prevent cancer and reduce metastasis. This field is especially interesting for David Reed, an undergraduate student working in Dr. Suckow’s lab this semester.
David is a Junior majoring in Science Preprofessional Studies with a minor in Anthropology. Since his Freshman year, he has been working with Camp Kesem, a student-run club that operates a one week summer camp for children whose parents have been affected by cancer. This club “has given me exposure to both the hardships that cancer can inflict upon a family, but also the amazing amount of good that can be done for individuals and their families that are struggling with this disease. My involvement with Kesem has strengthened my desire and dedication to the research that Dr. Suckow is doing,” David comments. Being involved in this club helps David see the people his research can potentially help.
Currently, David is assisting with a research study that is looking at adjuvants (things that make a vaccine more potent) that, in combination with tissue vaccines, could enhance the body’s immune response. If the immune response is strengthened, there is a greater chance the body will be able to fight off existing cancer.
What is the next step after defining his project? David needs to test the vaccines thoroughly to determine the effects of various adjuvants. For this experiment, he is using mice that will develop a form of prostate cancer. By testing more than one adjuvant, David will be able to see how effective each one is in inhibiting the progress of cancer. Since using tissue vaccines to treat cancer is a new one, testing is an important next step in making this treatment option viable.
Through his research, David is directly contributing to innovative new cancer treatments that are greatly needed. He is excited not only to gain new and valuable research skills, but to be able to contribute to a project that will hold real importance in the cancer research field. Working in a lab and learning in a hands-on way is a great supplement to the rigorous coursework David takes during his program. “I am very lucky to be working on something that I care a lot about and hopefully I can help forward the current research on cancer treatments, if only in a small way,” David