North Texas Daily

Grant to fund high-tech cancer research

Grant to fund high-tech cancer research

Jason Hamilton, Chemistry graduate student, demonstrates how to use the nanomanipulator, a device that allows for precise cell analysis. Photo By Nicole Arnold/Senior Staff Photographer

Grant to fund high-tech cancer research
January 14
19:42 2013

Melissa Wylie/ Senior Staff Writer

Dr. Guido Verbeck, a UNT Associate Professor of Chemistry, will receive two years of funding from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas after the institute awarded him with an $181,419 grant on Dec. 5.

The grant will fund Verbeck’s graduate student research group’s analysis of pancreatic cancer cells using a specialized, high-functioning microscope known as the Nanomanipulator.

Verbeck said the function of the Nanomanipulator is isolating a single cell within a tissue sample which allows cells to be compared individually.

“A single cell at any point of its life does not have the same chemistry as any other cell,” Verbeck said. “We have the capability now of looking at cellular heterogeneity, the actual differences from cell to cell.”

The UNT chemistry lab currently houses the only two existing Nanomanipulators, one used for forensic work and the other for biological research.

Verbeck said the grant from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas will allow him and his team of six students to further develop the Nanomanipulator and establish the limits of the device.

While the group analyzes cells, their main purpose is to perfect the machinery in order to benefit people in the medical and biological fields when treating cancer, Verbeck said.

“If you have a tool that could exact what stages the cells are at and how the body is responding to different treatments, you could adjust treatments on the fly,” he said.

Chemistry graduate student Jason Hamilton said each of the six graduate students spends 40 hours a week in the lab working on their own individual project involving the Nanomanipulator.

He said as a whole, the research group has a similar goal.

“We want to understand the process of how cells die and replicate,” Hamilton said. “I believe that therapies can be built around that information.”

Analytical chemistry graduate student Charlie Clemons said only preliminary research has been completed since the announcement of the grant. Part of that research conducted by Clemons has examined the differences between cancerous and non-cancerous cells.

In the future, Clemons will compile her findings to submit to academic publications.

Cells under analysis are either produced or ordered by Dr. Robby Petros, assistant professor of chemistry, Verbeck said.

Verbeck applied for the grant in June, as one of many grant requests he has sent throughout the year. After a two-year period is complete, Verbeck will seek additional funding to continue the study.

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North Texas Daily

North Texas Daily

The North Texas Daily is the official student newspaper of the University of North Texas, proudly serving UNT and the Denton community since 1916.

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