Honors Theses


Madhuri Kango-Singh, Ph.D.



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Honors Thesis


Colorectal cancer (CRC) will be the leading cause of cancer-related deaths for people under the age of 50 by 2030. Due to increased efforts to spread awareness for regular screenings, the five-year relative survival rate for those diagnosed with colon cancer is 64.4% (www.fightcolorectalcancer.org). Treatment for CRC consists primarily of the excision of the tumor paired with regular doses of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. These treatments cause systemic stress, damaging both cancerous and healthy cells alike. In order to create more efficient treatments, first, we must better understand the biology underlying changes in cells that lead to tumors in the colon. The proposed research aims to generate a better understanding of CRC using genetic models in Drosophila. We will specifically study the roles of the Hippo, Wnt, and JNK pathways on tumor formation and metastases in the colon. In order to do this, we have designed one- and three-hit models that disrupt each pathway singly and in combination with each other. These models represent the genetic heterogeneity in cancer patients, as well as represent the three most frequently found genetic lesions (p53, Ras, and APC.). The CRC models in flies will generate patches of cancerous cells in the fly gut (intestine). We will evaluate the CRC models (a) using antibody staining to check pathway activity (JNK, Wg, Hippo) and (b) using antibody staining to determine levels of proliferation and cell death. Overall, our studies will provide a platform for evaluating the effects of the three common genetic lesions in CRC and add to our knowledge about the altered communication between these oncogenes and pathways in CRC.

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Undergraduate research