Friday, December 5, 2014

URSP Student Nisha Sharma Co-Cultures Human Breast and Lung Cancer Cells

As an undergraduate student majoring in bioengineering at George Mason University, I have become deeply interested in cancer research through in-class exercises on drug absorption and excretion with anticancer drugs. I am interested in researching and working in the bioengineering field, specifically in cell-cell interaction and analysis. The research project I am currently conducting is with the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program in the lab of Dr. Nitin Agrawal. Dr. Agrawal’s research primarily focuses on biological signals in tumor cell migration and abnormal growth as well as tumor cell interaction and development. By working on a research project involved with co-culturing cell analysis, I have been able to obtain a hands-on learning experience on researching in this field to gain insight in cancer cell investigation. I can see this project being related to my long term goals because I hope to work with cancer research in the future.

On a weekly basis I will be passaging several ratios of co-culture of two cells: breast cancer cells (MDA-MB-4175) and human lung cancer cells (NCIH460). A co-culture of two cells is developed in in-vitro models to offer an in-vivo-like environment. Co-cultures are valuable for exhibiting and analyzing the interaction and signaling between various types of cell.6 Co-cultures can also be utilized to observe intercellular communication, cell movement, and stimulation and preservation of cell function and differentiation.6 In this research project I am studying and observing the interactions between breast cancer cells (MDA-MB-4175) and human lung cancer cells (NCIH460) to discover the effects of co-culturing two primary cancer cells.

One thing I discovered this week is that the growth rate of the human lung cancer cells (NCIH460) is faster than the growth rate of breast cancer cells (MDA-MB-4175) so this may create a bias in the results obtained in this experiment. If there was a future experiment on the co-culture of two different cell types, the growth rates should be similar to avoid a bias in the results.