Investigating oncogenic signaling pathways as molecular targets in pancreatic cancer

Date / Time

February 23, 2018 - February 23, 2018

12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Investigating oncogenic signaling pathways as molecular targets in pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is the most prevalent cancer of the pancreas with a 5-year survival rate of 9%, making it the 3rd most common cause of cancer deaths in the United States. One of the challenges related to this cancer is the issue of chemoresistance. Chemoresistance renders most drugs ineffective in the treatment of PDAC, including kinase inhibitors and chemotherapy. PIM (Proviral Integration site for the Moloney murine leukemia virus) kinases are a family of oncogenic proteins shown to play an important role in the chemoresistance of many cancers, including pancreatic cancer. PIMs act downstream of the JAK-STAT cytokine signaling pathway and phosphorylate substrates involved in numerous cell functions including cell cycle progression and apoptosis. To determine the role of PIM kinases on transformed phenotypes of PDAC cells, we tested shRNAs and kinase inhibitors made against PIM kinases. We were able to demonstrate that PIM kinase inhibition was able to decrease transformed phenotypes such as anchorage-dependent and anchorage-independent growth in the PDAC cells. Also, we observed that PIM inhibition was able to sensitize PDAC cells to chemotherapy. Overall, our results suggest that PIM kinases are an important molecular target for cell growth and chemoresistance in pancreatic cancer.

Antonio T. Baines, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Biological & Biomedical Sciences
Cancer Research Program
Director, Integrated Biosciences Ph.D. Program
North Carolina Central University

Science was always one of the courses that Dr. Antonio (Tony) Baines excelled in throughout high school.  It was this love for science that led him to major in biology as an honor student at Norfolk State University in Norfolk, Virginia. After graduation, Tony was admitted to the graduate program in pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Arizona. As a graduate student working in the Arizona Cancer Center, he studied how the trace element selenium could inhibit colon cancer growth. In 2001, Tony received his Ph.D. in Pharmacology and Toxicology and accepted a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH) in pharmacology working in the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.  His research focused on validating novel molecular targets in pancreatic cancer for potential drug therapies.

In August 2006, Tony accepted a tenure-track faculty position in the Department of Biology and the Cancer Research Program at North Carolina Central University (NCCU), one of 17 schools in the UNC system in Durham, North Carolina. As an Associate Professor, he teaches and conducts research on molecular targets in pancreatic cancer. Most recently, he became the Director of the Integrated Biosciences Ph.D. program at NCCU. In addition, he is adjunct faculty in the Department of Pharmacology and a member in the Curriculum in Toxicology at UNC-CH. During his free time, Tony likes to jog, practice martial arts, watch movies, read, travel, and most importantly, spend quality time with his family.

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