Students in the Chemotherapy Discovery Lab participate in a research project in collaboration with the laboratory of Dr. Tin Tin Su. The aim of the project is to identify novel chemotherapeutics that sensitize dividing cells to radiation treatment by screening in fruit flies (Drosophila). Students breed Drosophila and screen compounds from a library of Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs. Each student screens through approximately 15 drugs per batch; a different set of 250 drugs is screened by the class each week so more than 700 drugs are considered over the course of the semester. Screening through each batch, from embryo collection to data analysis, takes two weeks (collect embryos on day 0, irradiate larvae of day 5, quantify survival on day 15).
For a description of the experiments performed:
The overriding goal is for students to become familiar with a number of biology concepts and techniques including model systems, genetics, approaches to screening for new therapeutics, statistical analyses, and compound validation. Unlike laboratory exercises that are designed to “work” and reinforce concepts that may accompany lecture topics, there is no certainty that any one particular project will succeed, which mirrors the inherent risks of novel research. The goal-oriented nature of this research effort means that validation of findings will also need to be performed.
- Understand how the data contribute to the research being performed in the Su lab and also to drug discovery in general,
- Obtain experience in Drosophila culture and husbandry,
- Participate in drug screen experiments to identify compounds with potential therapeutic value,
- Statistically evaluate experimental data,
- Present final research data to a review panel during the final exam period,
- Understand and be able to describe previous research on your compound(s).
- Understand and be able to describe how your data relate to previous research.