Dr. Dasgupta’s research highlighted on WV Public Broadcasting radio

Study at Marshall focuses on new therapies for lung cancer

By Clark Davis
March 27, 2013 · Researchers from Marshall University are studying treatment options for lung cancer.

A study conducted by Marshall University associate professor Dr. Piyali Dasgupta may be the beginning of something big. In fact, the study was recently published in a highly respected medical journal called Cancer Research. The professor of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology worked on a study that could lead to new treatments for lung cancer.

Dasgupta said cells in the body are used by nicotine to promote the growth and survival of bronchioalveolar carcinomas or BACs. Dasgupta says they were able to find that using certain drugs to interrupt neurotransmitters, suppresses nicotine induced growth. Dasgupta said they hope to produce compounds based on the original agent vesamicol that are more potent in the fight of the cancer cells. 

“What we are hoping is that in the future using some kind of studies that are chemistry based, we can come up with novel compounds that are more potent and more specific which will have the same anti-cancer effects, it’s novel because it provides a new molecular target which can be used for the treatments of these cancers,” Dasgupta said.

Dasgupta said it’s exciting to find a unique angle to fighting lung cancer. 

“Yes I do think in tobacco dependent lung cancers that this is a novel strategy for therapy so we’ll see how things go, but as of now we are excited about it,” Dasgupta said.

Dasqupta said nicotine itself is not a carcinogen, but studies have shown it can induce the growth of lung cancers and even protect lung cancer cells against chemotherapy. Dasgupta said the study is important in West Virginia. 

“The angle of tobacco and lung cancer is a very relevant problem that we face in West Virginia and people are exposed to nicotine by second hand smoke and people that quit are exposed to patches and gums and then you have the electronic cigarette, but researchers within West Virginia we understand the urgency in this,” Dasgupta said.

Dasgupta used the help of a research team made up of undergraduate and graduate students and said these findings wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Dr. Yi Charlie Chen, a professor of biology at Alderson-Broaddus in Philippi.

“With the collaboration she’s able to accomplish more you know on her research and it’s the same for me, it’s very nice and important to have a collaborator so we can raise more questions,” Chen said.

Dr. Dasgupta said that ability to lean on a respected fellow researcher like Chen is important. 

“He did these experiments at his end and quantitated the results and we were thrilled to find out that he was getting exactly the same results that we were which means validation of your work in different sources, so yes he’s been a big part of our research program,” Dasgupta said.

That validation led to the work being published in Cancer Research, the most cited cancer research journal in the world.