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ARCS Members Learn About Health Research at OSU

Posted on Monday, April 17, 2017

ARCS members gathered at Oregon State University on April 12th to learn first-hand about advances in ALS research, dietary influences on prostate and breast cancer development, bone health and new technologies in veterinary medicine. ARCS members were greeted by Cindy Sagers, Vice President of Research, and Javier Nieto, dean of the College of Public Health and Human Services. After the tours, ARCS members, OSU staff and ARC scholars convened in the Alumni Center for a short program and lunch. 

Understanding Neurodegeneration

A major research project in the laboratory of Dr. Joe Beckman is aimed at understanding how oxidative stress, superoxide dismutase, and zinc are involved in Lou Gehrig's disease.  After 25 years of searching and inventing multiple new technologies, Dr. Beckman's team of researchers are on the cusp of understanding the molecular basis of ALS. They have now developed at least three independent therapeutic agents for human trials. One is entering clinical trials in a few weeks, one is already showing positive signs of efficacy in phase III trials, and the third compound has just been synthesized in enough quantity for testing.

Diet and Cancer Prevention

The laboratory of Dr. Emily Ho works to understand the molecular mechanisms by which nutrients affect the onset and progression of chronic diseases, such as cancer.  Her team strives to identify food-based strategies that are effective in preventing and slowing cancer. Dietary compounds, especially those found in traditional Asian diets, such as soy, teas, and cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli) can limit prostate and breast cancer development.  The lab has completed two clinical trials utilizing broccoli sprout supplementation in breast and prostate cancer patients that show signs of benefit for these patients.  Deficits in zinc intake could also have a major impact on an individual's susceptibility to DNA damage, altered immune function, and risk for developing cancer. The elderly population is especially at risk. View a recent presentation by Dr. Ho.

Bone Health

The Skeletal Biology Laboratory, co-directed by Urszela Iwaniec, PhD, and Russell Turner, PhD, is dedicated to improving bone health across the lifespan.  Knowledge of their team is utilized to design interventions to prevent or treat metabolic bone disease such as osteoporosis. Their current research focuses on:

  • Understanding how the brain, fat cells, and bone cells communicate with one another to promote optimal bone growth.
  • Determining why a little alcohol is often good for the skeleton but a lot can have consequences.
  • Insuring bone health in astronauts during spaceflight.
  • Improving the predictability of experimental models for metabolic bone disease.

Comparative Oncology

Dr. Bracha's laboratory in the College of Veterinary Medicine investigates cellular and systemic processes associated with cancer. One of the main focuses in his lab is to investigate the role of exosomes and their interaction with the immune system. Exosomes can manipulate the immune system to promote the evasion of cancer cells by changing the capacity of these cells to effectively identify and eliminate malignant cells. In collaboration with OSU Pharmacy department his lab is testing the use of synthesized nanoparticles with a similar structure to microvesicles.  These nanoparticles were shown to be effective in identifying the exact location and extent of the tumor as well as an effective tool for specific delivery of therapeutic agents.

Information courtesy of OSU