Voelcker Academy

Research Symposium 2010


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Selina Kadiwal

Determining the role of DNA copy number variants in the predisposition to develop prostate cancer

Selina Kadiwal

Mentor: Dr. Teresa Pais-Johnson

The research project will be focused on identifying genes with altered copy number states in DNA isolated from peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) obtained from prostate cancer patients and healthy subjects to aid in the development of cancer biomarkers. Cancer biomarkers are found in the genetic code, plasma, bodily fluids, and serum. Cancer biomarkers can help determine cancer predisposition, and assist in the early detection of cancer. Currently, only some cancer biomarkers exist for which patients are screened. One common cancer biomarker is PSA, or prostate specific antigen. This biomarker aids in the diagnosis and prognosis of prostate cancer. This biomarker is present in the body under normal conditions, and can fluctuate due to other factors, such as prostatitis making it less specific than necessary to be used for diagnosis accurately. Regions of the genome that show increased or decreased DNA copy number have the potential to affect the expression of nearby genes and play a role in the development of cancer. We hypothesize that copy number variation in DNA isolated from PBMCs can be used as a signature that will be useful in the diagnosis and/or prognosis of prostate cancer. To test this hypothesis, we will isolate DNA from the PBMCs and use this DNA to perform Illumina’s whole genome single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotyping assay. The data will be statistically analyzed and regions of altered copy number will be identified that differ between the DNAs of the cancer patients and healthy controls. The development of new genomic biomarkers that will be clinically useful in the diagnosis or prognosis of prostate cancer is the overall goal of this project.

Julianne D. Jett, Tania Bédard-Arana and Gustavo Rodriguez