Amy Zamora, a senior mathematics major at Haverford College, generated fluorescent biosensors to aid in rare cancer cell line growth.
In recent years, genomic and anti-cancer compound initiatives have been used to identify potential cancer dependencies. However, these and other cutting-edge technologies have been primarily applied to common cancers already represented with established cell line models. The Broad is an amazing place, where you can be among so many brilliant people and still feel the door is wide open to you to be a meaningful scientific contributor. This program has taught me that no matter the roadblocks or struggles, it is always possible to achieve greatness and be proud of what you’ve accomplished.With limited models, relatively little is known about the vulnerabilities of rare cancers. Without patient representative lines, it’s not feasible to apply many current technologies and experimental approaches to accelerate rare cancer research. We know additional method development is necessary to establish strategies for generating these cell lines, but research groups worldwide have largely failed to establish protocols for generation from primary patient material; leaving us with few current methods for line generation. The Cancer Cell Line Factory and I aimed to streamline the process of primary tissue acquisition for development of standard model generation procedures. To identify robust methods for growth of novel cancer cell types, we utilized a systematic approach for screening cell culture conditions by combining published methods with other standard approaches. This included identifying optimal cell culture conditions for novel cancer types. Additionally, we developed a new biosensor to rapidly assess identity, health, and stress levels of cells in culture. Viral constructs for these biosensors were inserted into established cell lines to test their efficacy. This construct was able to identify stressful cellular conditions with great clarity and ease, proving successful. With this result, integration into rare cancer model growth will yield successful, leaving us able to determine early and efficiently when to intervene with conditional changes. Hopefully such an ability will allow us to growth these lines with more ease than previously, giving us new, more efficiently fight the disease.
Project: Optimizing the methodology of rare cancer cell line growth
Mentor: Guila Fakhoury, Cancer Cell Line Factory, Cancer Program