Dr. Theodoraki, Morales ’19, Settle ’19 Target Dormant Cancer Cells

By Caitlin Burns | May 3, 2019

Dr. Maria Theodoraki, assistant professor of Biology, Biology majors Theodore E. Habarth Morales ’19 and Aspen La-Riene Settle ’19, and their research collaborators published “Synthesis, structure-activity relationship and in vitro pharmacodynamics of A-ring modified caged xanthones in a preclinical model of inflammatory breast cancer,” a paper evaluating the activity of novel anti-cancer agents derived from a Southeast Asian tree of the genus Garcinia.

The research team identified two compounds, MAD28 and MAD67, that effectively kill 3D breast cancer spheroids in vitro. Both compounds were also able to target dormant breast cancer cells found in the center of the 3D spheroids. Dormant breast cancer cells evade current chemotherapeutics, leading to cancer recurrence and high mortality rates. These drugs may present a clinical solution that will reduce cancer mortality and metastasis.

Their research—funded by the Ellington Beavers Award for Intellectual Inquiry—is an important step toward clinical trials.