Work in Dr. Theodoraki’s Lab Leads to Publishing of Cancer-Fighting Research

By Ryan Hiemenz '23 | April 13, 2023

This past January, Dr. Maria Theodoraki‘s lab published the research paper “Gambogic Acid: Multi-Gram Scale Isolation, Stereochemical Erosion Toward Epi-Gambogic Acid And Biological Profile” in Frontiers in Natural Products alongside its collaborating organic chemistry lab at the University of San Diego. In the research, Katelin Decker ’22 and Michelle Frank ’23 studied how micromolar concentrations of different formulations of gambogic acid (GBA) affected cytotoxicity in the triple-negative breast cancer cell line, MDA-MB-231. This work was supported in part by the R. Wesley Rose Award in Support of Undergraduate Research and the Ellington Beavers Award for Intellectual Inquiry from Arcadia University.

GBA is a chemical compound that derives from the tropical trees, Garcinia hanburyi, found in parts of Southeast Asia. Though the resin extracted from this plant has been used in tonics by indigenous people for centuries, recent research suggests that purified GBA has anti-cancer properties. Using a variety of in vitro experiments, Dr. Theodoraki’s lab was able to further evaluate the efficacy of three different synthetic formulations of GBA in order to enable drug design and development studies. 

As a recent graduate, Decker is currently working as a molecular biochemist in the research and development department at Code Biotherapeutics in Hatfield, Pa. Frank will graduate this May and pursue a Ph.D. in biomedical science at Rutgers University Biomedical and Health Sciences in Newark, N.J., this fall. Dr. Theodoraki is an associate professor of Biology whose research interests include​​molecular chaperones, cancer, and cellular quality control.

Professor Maria Theodoraki oversees research by Michelle Frank '23 and Katelin Decker '23 in the cell bio lab.
Michelle Frank ’23, Dr. Maria Theodoraki, and Katelin Decker ’22 in Dr. Theodoraki’s Lab in 2021